Charity albums don’t have to sacrifice quality, and Mall Grab’s Don’t Keep the Fire Burning is evidence.
Mark Newlands wants to punch you in the face — “you” being a sort of nebulous label for anyone who don’t take DJs seriously, who doesn’t think someone who twiddles away on a computer has to do such things as” warm-up” before a gig. We hear him repeat this desire several times on the closing track from Mall Grab’s Don’t Keep The Fire Burning, a brief collection of four previously unreleased “mg bits.” The EP comes packaged as a charity release, an effort to fundraise for the New South Wales Rural Fire Service during the intense wave of bushfires that spread across Australia earlier in the year; such a genesis might usually suggest something of a low-effort work, with the dual goals of delivering hardcore fans a little more material while also generating good PR in the process.
But much like Newland’s threats of violence, his bid at generosity comes from a place of supreme artistic confidence; what he has delivered with Don’t Keep the Fire Burning is high-energy house to thoughtfully consider, crafted by a technician working at the height of his powers. “Positive Energy Forever” (an ironic sentiment, considering the phrase “fuck Scott Morrison” can be found on the project’s SoundCloud page) begins with a haunting, repeated sample loop that serves as the emotive foundation for Jordon Alexander’s 8-minute-long lo-fi techno odyssey, one that swells and meanders between sessions of high-frequency bass and spacey synthesizers. “Disconnect” kicks off with a series of infectious hi-hats before getting down brass tacks, proceeding with a heavy electro-influenced progression; “This Is A” immediately follows, featuring a more propulsive tempo and grimier break section that indulges its pronounced punk spirit. And when things come to their climatic end with “Sheer Fuck-Offness” — the type of mad-dash, dynamically-built endorphin rush that’s constructed with the clear intention of being blasted at some warehouse at 3 AM — it feels as if the agitated Bloody Fist Records founder’s vision and voice have fully clarified.
Published as part of Obscure Object | Q2 2020 Issue.