Cult favorites HTRK play a bleak yet beguiling form of electronic post-punk marked by dirge-like drum machine rhythms and sensuous vocals. Initially exploring a deconstructed noise-rock sound on releases like their 2005 debut Nostalgia, the group's sound became more refined, as well as more emotionally resonant, with subsequent albums like 2011's Work (Work, Work).
HTRK -- pronounced "Hate Rock" and also known as Hate Rock Trio -- formed in Melbourne, Australia in 2003. After their former group, Portraits of Hugo Perez, disbanded, bassist Sean Stewart and guitarist Nigel Yang recruited vocalist Jonnine Standish with the aim of creating a project like the Birthday Party, with slow, mechanical repetition (courtesy of a drum machine and Jonnine playing percussion), simplistic basslines, and deafening guitar feedback. Their aesthetic clashed drastically with the '80s rock revival scene that was becoming popular in Australia, and their early shows harbored mixed reviews. The trio followed its love of Krautrock to Berlin, Germany, and recorded a demo. Titled Nostalgia, the disc was self-released in a limited run of 500 in 2005. Two years later, U.K. label Fire Records gave Nostalgia a proper release, and the group settled in London. Soon after, the trio started recording its first full-length, Marry Me Tonight, with former Birthday Party guitarist Rowland S. Howard. Blast First Petite issued the album in 2009.
Tragedy struck in 2010 when Stewart committed suicide at age 29. Yang and Standish reluctantly carried on, signing with Ghostly International and releasing Work (Work, Work) in September of 2011. Stripped down and less feedback-drenched than their earlier work, the album truly marked a new beginning for the group, producing some of their most affecting material. Part Time Punks Radio Sessions, a split EP with Tropic of Cancer, appeared in 2012. HTRK's third studio album, Psychic 9-5 Club, was released in early 2014. Two limited, self-issued singles, "Drama" and "Dying of Jealousy," preceded the group's intimate, romantic 2019 full-length Venus in Leo. ~ Jason Lymangrover