BY MICHAEL TOLAND
If anybody outside of Australian underground rock fanatics has heard of Venom P. Stinger, it’s as a home for two-thirds of improvisational instrumental band the Dirty Three. But the quartet deserves more than footnote status in the Three’s Wikipedia entry. Growing like a weed out of a busy Melbourne hardcore scene, VPS brought together guitarist Mick Turner (from Sick Things and the Moodists), drummer Jim White (ex-People With Chairs Up Their Noses and the Feral Dinosaurs) with bassist Alan Secher-Jensen and Turner’s Sick Things bandmate Dugald McKenzie for a frenzied wang dang doodle that contributed to Melbourne’s post-Birthday Party noise rock legacy without fading into it. White thrashes his kit with the jazz-laced acumen he’d bring to the Dirty Three, but with a devil-may-care drive anchored by Secher-Jensen’s root note throb. Turner sprays notes and licks across the rhythm section’s foundation the way a fundamentalist preacher sprays invective over gay-friendly movies and TV shows. McKenzie simply brays whatever eccentric nonsense and random depravity comes into his (allegedly) drunken head, proving the adage that attitude counts the most in rock & roll.
Over the course of the EP, single and two LPs collected on the comprehensive 1986-1991, the band rarely deviates from the seething sound of an impending nervous breakdown, moving from the A to B of the wild-eyed teeth-gritter “The Quiet One” and to the boiled over catharsis of “Impressions” and back without much fuss. The band picked up trace amounts of melody as it went on, as evidenced by “Lethargy” and “What’s Yours is Mine,” but its sneering trash vision held true. The effect admittedly becomes a bit wearisome over the course of nearly 90 minutes, but in small doses Venom P. Stinger scratches a sleazy itch few other bands can – or are willing to – touch.
DOWNLOAD: “Venom P. Stinger,” “Lethargy,” “What’s Yours is Mine”