Naarm/Melbourne experimental art-punk juggernauts EXEK are back today with the second offering to their forthcoming sixth full-length album, The Map and the Territory, out October 6th on the band's own Foreign Records. The latest single, "It's Just a Flesh Wound, Darling," is another striking and surreal portrait of the band's dub-punk purity and brain-swirling psychedelia. Along with the premiere, we also caught up with guitarist Jai Morris-Smith to tell us more about the new single and its quirky lyric video, the inspirations that make up the new album, and how the group remains the key starting point in the Naarm/Melbourne scene.
Naarm/Melbourne experimental post-punk sextet EXEK — the enigmatic vocalist and bandleader Albert Wolski, guitarist Jai Morris-Smith, synthesist Andrew Brocchi, trumpeter-backing-vocalist Valya YL Hooi, bassist Ben Hepworth, and drummer Chris Stephenson — are back today with "It's Just A Flesh Wound, Darling," the latest offering to the band's upcoming sixth full-length LP, The Map and the Territory, out October 6th on the band's own Foreign Records. There will also be North American distribution of the new album through the ever-reliable Cincy label Feel It Records (The Cowboys, Sweeping Promises, The Drin). Inspired by the writings of the late great Polish journalist, Ryszard Kapuściński, who documented countless coups and revolutions throughout the twentieth century, the latest single goes all-in on the post-punk tension and oddball impulses that's at the core of EXEK's sound. Similar to last year's LP Advertise Here, the track cuts through its minimal pop arrangements between pulse and perplexity with its skeletal swirls of guitars and eerie twinkles of keys.
Self-recorded throughout 2021 to 2022, Wolski describes the new album in a press release as "perhaps less ambitious than some previous EXEK releases. In a positive way, obviously." Comprised of eight tracks, there is a greater focus on song craftsmanship, where elongated jams play second fiddle to choruses and hooks. These new tracks will translate effectively into a live environment, and are destined to quickly become set favourites. And yes, of course, the iconic EXEK album soundmarks remain ever present — dubbed out drums, guitars that sound like robots from Forbidden Planet, and deep synths that recall The Idiot.
Along with today's premiere, we also caught up with Morris-Smith to tell us more about the new single and its quirky lyric video, the inspirations that make up the new album, and how the group remains the key starting point in the Naarm/Melbourne scene.
Paperface Zine: Before we dive into the new EXEK LP, first tell me what you've been listening to lately. Any favorite releases this year so far or anticipated ones?
Jai Morris-Smith: Currently crushing DJ Screw's back catalogue. Also been revisiting HTRK (Marry Me Tonight). Yuta Matsumura's Red Ribbon would be the favorite release in the last year.
PZ: Take me through the origins of this new album The Map and The Territory coming out October 6th on your guys' label Foreign Records. When I last spoke with Albert, he said this one was ready to be released for a while.
JMS: France, a Van off a Cliff, a memory expansion pack, a sniper on the roof, hemorrhaging funds, applying for insurance. The Idiot. Work is done in advance. Quickly and quietly. Left to let it sit until mold begins to develop and the world is fully formed.
PZ: Today, we're premiering the single and video to "It's Just A Flesh Wound, Darling." How did this one come together and what do you love most about it?
JMS: Like anyone, I like to draw my own conclusion to music, my own world in which
I as the listener formulate my own story to my own experience — the montage of thoughtless stock footage, represents the absurd obscure nature of life in year like 2023.
PZ: Thematically, what does it deal with? Did you draw from any specific inspirations when writing/composing it?
JMS: In regards to theme and content, only Albert can give you that insight. The world of EXEK is expanding. I can say though, It's the oldest track on this record I believe, written during or in-between Good Thing They Ripped Up The Carpet and Advertise Here.
My inspiration at the time — snipers, castles, Tao Te Ching, and Kid Andrew Borochi.
PZ: EXEK is certainly on its own pedestal, always shapeshifting with its intoxicatingly heady grooves and meandering, dub-dilated pop songs, but how do you view this new album compared to your previous ones?
JMS: I view it like the view from my balcony overlooking the water in Sydney's Kings Cross. It is right where I / we are meant to be. This album is expanding on each album before it. To me they are one story. I would agree with Albert that it's less ambitious in a sense, but with that it is a wholly more powerful record with mega vibe and focus.
PZ: How did you land the title and the cover art?
JMS: The title is from a novel I haven't read. The cover art is a photo taken by Robyn Daly on the the Gold Coast, Queensland Australia.
PZ: Aside from this new single, do you have any favorites on the new album?
JMS: The opening track, "On The Ground Floor" is a true guitarist track and I would use that statement similarly again about "Lifeboats" where it's riff reminds me of "The Passenger" off Iggy's Lust For Life or the Stooges' "I Wanna be Your Dog." Not in how both songs sound, but how simple and interesting the chord sequence/progression is. My favorite track is "Welcome to My Alibi." Why? Because we all need an Albi and this one slaps. Albert has crafted it in a world where G-Funk meets Bill Frisell, crazy track. I asked Albert when he sent the demo, what's the vibe I'm hearing in the bass and synthesizers and he replied G-Funk. [Laughs].
PZ: What else is brewing in the EXEK lab? I saw some members recently played a gig performing some Spacemen 3 songs which looked sick.
JMS: What's cookin' right now is The Map and The Territory. Preparing for its release and shows. I heard a rumor about a hedonist in Greece that owns a convertible a goat a million chocolates and dates a guy called Gobbi Loretti? EXEK has been doing Spacemen covers for a while. Suits EXEK, while New Order's "True Faith" does not.
EXEK's The Map and the Territory is out October 6th on Foreign Records. Pre-order the wax below and purchase it in the states from Feel It Records here.