This is Amateur Childbirth's Christian Rock album. The previous LP from Ivan Matthew Hicks' solo project, 2015's Pripyat, concerned itself with the blighted belief systems of UFO worshippers, Your Afterlife Is Cancelled expands this compelling solo project's field of enquiry to look at a wider array of "religious anomalies" – cults, for want of a better word. Each song is about a different such anomaly.
To call Hicks' vision apocalyptic would be to underplay its cruelty. The Bible's rampant sadism pales in comparison. This is a world where faith – in a god or gods, in astrology, morality, or any meaning whatsoever - is merely a prelude to punishment. His lyrics are vivid glossaries of pain, abjection and indignity; the songs' protagonists swim in blood, piss, shit and ejaculate. Eschatology and scatology are indivisible here. Drugs are rampantly abused, albeit to little benefit. There are scalpel-flashes of humour in Hicks' wordplay, rhyming and dour Brisbane diction - but this offers scant consolation for the songs' embattled subjects, who wait, in vein, for salvation, while crows peck out their eyes, blood pours from their ears, and psoriasis ravages their skin.
These words, for all their pessimism and body-horror, are cradled in minimalist, folk-rock arrangements that are quite dazzling in their beauty and grievously earned simplicity: Hicks' monochord strum embellished with subtle violin, synthesizer and percussion shading. Amateur Childbirth's caustic end-times worldview inevitably prompts comparisons with Current 93, but also a wider (non-)tradition of caustic and disturbed loner psych that includes Simon Finn, Patrik Fitzgerald, Robyn Hitchcock, Peter Jefferies and Roy Harper.
Your Afterlife Is Cancelled is a depressive tour de force from one of the most crushingly eloquent voices in the Australian underground.
released September 15, 2017
Words and music: Ivan Matthew Hicks
Drums: Nicholas Rowan
Violin: Joshua Watson
Additional keyboards: Benjamin Casey
supported by 5 fans who also own “Your Afterlife Is Cancelled”
We go deep into the forest. Every Kind Word is the standout for me here, with Funke’s melancholic delivery balanced atop rickety acoustic guitars. Forest Photographer is a slightly spooky opener, with birdsong, tape hiss and wobbly keys. Flourish pits stripped back guitars against more birdsong. It sounds like it might be raining on the string dipped EP closer, Angel. Forest Photographer is an outstanding EP, which is best suited to quiet times and reflective moments. freersounds