Photo: Youtube
by Paul Attard Music Obscure Object

Mall Grab | Don’t Keep the Fire Burning

July 27, 2020

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.