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Billiam – Corner Tactics

Fans of Melbourne/Naarm-based Billiam will be familiar with his brand of high-energy hyperpunk. The unreasonably prolific bedroom producer and self-described progenitor of “autism core” has been releasing EPs, live tapes and compilations since 2020. For those of us who have been waiting, debut LP Corner Tactics marks his most cohesive and fully realised work to date; for those who haven’t, it’s perhaps the ultimate introduction.

A series of short punk jolts each barely cracking a minute or two, Corner Tactics doesn’t waste a moment. In fact, these 14 songs don’t even break 30 minutes total (marginally less impressive than previous release Steakhead Breakbeats which packs 9 songs into under 12 minutes). Its economy is to its strength – the LP is never self-indulgent, always surging forward.

Equal parts overwhelming and compelling, manic and paranoid, Billiam sees the funny side in societal and mental breakdowns, delivering commentary and self-reflection with his trademark warped sense of both melody and humour. Album opener ‘Leather Pepper’ is the ideal example, leading with a voice note from a friend: “Billy always messages me saying ‘I wrote a new song different from all the other songs’ and every time I play it, it goes ‘me me me me, wah wah wah wah’”.

Tracks like ‘Ratshitand ‘Zippa!fit right in with the high-speed syncopated riffs of the new wave of Melbourne punk, even nodding to speedy Nashville silly-punks Snooper. In the latter, Billiam cries “Oh no oh no oh no oh no! And my head’s spinning!” with something approaching ecstasy. Throughout Corner Tactics, desperation is always teetering on the verge of cathartic release.

The album’s trio of singles represent a perfect cross-section of its soundscape. In ‘Low Testosterone‘, synth provides a sweet melodic offset to Billiam’s acerbic, detached vocals. ‘Freak Line’ delivers an unexpected burst of acoustic guitar, almost akin to Falmouth garage-rockers Holiday Ghosts, with a succinct singalong chorus. Out on Medication turns the familiar struggle of closed clinics and empty prescriptions into an anthem of paranoia with “redrum”-esque croaked delivery (accompanied by matching finger movements in the music video).

Fans will be delighted that Billiam has not tamed any of his oddities for the LP. The album contains not one but two songs referencing the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise. Centred around a video game keyboard motif, ‘Shadow the Hedgehog’ sees Billiam relate to Sonic’s arch-nemesis with a sweet verse vocal reminiscent of Alex G, while ‘Sonic Belt Buckle’ swirls with self-aware absurdism – “You wish you had my Sonic Belt Buckle, I love my Sonic Belt Buckle”. Beyond this, there is more than a hint of Sega in the Casio chords of tracks like ‘All My Friends are Felix the Cat‘ and ‘Corrugated Chest.

That’s not to say that the album does not have its fair share of classically stomping rock n roll. Tracks like ‘Boxing‘ with its driving chorus or ‘The Man Who Made up Numbers‘ with its swinging, shuffling rhythm and deadpan gang vocals take notes from a fertile Australian garage-rock scene. ‘Second Take‘ got me thinking about fellow Melbournians Delivery with its sharp riff and urgent hi-hat rhythm.

Perhaps my personal highlight is the album closer My Life as Sylvie S. A surprisingly poignant reflection on the creative process and the self where Billiam wrestles with the desire to dissolve into alter ego – “I’m sick of playing me, I wish I could be Sylvie S”. Even when baring his soul, Billiam’s tongue is still firmly in cheek, poking fun at his own abilities – “Got better at the mixing, not better at the singing”. In its final moments, keyboards crescendo like sirens before battering toms give way to hospital tones and fade away.

Like an auditory illusion, whether the album will strike you as a jovial, danceable romp or a relatable scream of frustration will probably change depending on your mood, your meds and the position of the moon. Either way, leave it to Billiam to make probably the most fun record about mental breakdowns you’ll hear this year.


God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.