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Pre.Shrunk No one split hairs about Pablo Picasso’s paintbrushes. James Joyce’s typewriter was nobody’s business. Rudy Nureyev’s shoes, by and large, are unremarked by history. Which brings us to pre.shrunK. And not necessarily to their choice of tools.

“Our music isn’t about instrumentation, it’s about sounds,” says Justin Dwyer, lone drummer between the twin bass guitars of Dave Morris and Davage Thomas. “It has a life of its own which has developed far beyond its original chemistry.”

“Asking us why,” adds Davage, “is like asking a human being ‘What was the thinking behind standing up and walking on your feet?’ It was too long ago.” It works too well, what’s more, to go back now.

Insistent anthropologists may find traces of the Melbourne trio’s unique DNA in Bootsy Collins’s work with James Brown. “He’d record two bass lines,” Davage reveals, “one anchor, then a polyrhythmic or syncopated line on top. They’re the words Dave and Justin told me to use, anyway.”

“It was an exercise in bass slappery to begin with,” Dave concedes. “Then we discovered that using basses as instruments, we could actually create our own style of music. Blur genres. Write music we enjoyed playing. Out of that simple, minimalistic framework came this.”

“This” is Bestseller, the prophetically titled second LP by pre.shrunK. They’ve made some hair-raising incursions to the front line of sonic possibility since the revelatory vibrations of their first casual jam in March ‘96. But this is where the hostages come home dancing.

“This album was born after a previous album of strained expression and experimentation,” says Davage, referring to the mind-boggling audio canvas of 2001’s Digital Sunrise. “The title said it all – we knew we were coming to terms with the technology.”

“If our career was the Tour de France,” Dave clarifies, “Digital Sunrise was the hill stage. Now we’ve plateaud out, focussing on our performance. We’ve said ‘Right, we know what we can achieve, both production and songwriting wise. Let’s go for what feeeeels good’.”

The F-word is the backbone of Bestseller. It’s got a heart the size of Bootsy’s funk muscle and a sense of joyous but disciplined minimalism that puts sweet grooves, top tunes and lovingly crafted textures on the table and all the cumbersome off-cuts straight down the trash chute.

“We’re fairly prolific as writers,” says Davage, “no shortage of melodies and harmonies and rhythmic ideas – in fact some people might think we’re a band that knows too much, in a way. But we’ve found out what you leave out is more important. We’ve got to the crux of the song now.”

Bestseller was recorded in August/ September 2002 at Scream Louder Studios in Warrandyte. In an engineering / co-production capacity, pre_shrunK renewed an obsession with the magic ears and fingers of Reggie P. Bowman which began on their ’97 EP, Exhibit [A].

“He’s a living legend,” Dave says of the sound sculptor whose credits span from Southern Sons to Another Race. “If bands were walking around with metal detectors, he’s the nugget just under the surface. We can speak a language with him that would baffle the average person.”

To the eavesdropper, the vocabulary of Bestseller is staggering. Fragile conjoins Police-esque contrapuntal pop and breezy drum’n’bass. Cookie’s recipe includes rap, Chinese philosophy and ‘80s electro. Mofo goes where the Jackson Five would have copped a spanking and the title track grunts and gyrates like a metal-plated mirror ball.

“The most important thing about this record is it’s really honest,” says Davage. “Our influences are probably all over our sleeves, hanging off like boogers we’re not even aware of. Each of us expressed himself exactly how he really wants to.”

“Part of the idea was to have a record we could actually go out and play,” adds Dave. “Half of Digital Sunrise, we couldn't possibly do that. These songs will work with acoustic basses in an unplugged scenario. Not that we have any plans along those lines…”

Never mind a reverential live reputation, ARIA nominations, Critics Awards, Japanese festival conquests and personal tour invitations from silverchair. Bestseller is the masterwork pre.shrunK have been moonwalking around since they sent their first guitarist packing.

“We’ve reached the stage where we understand what we love about funk music,” Davage concludes with a Travolta-esque blend of insolence and charm. “We’re feeling qualified to make a funkified statement. We’re prepared to add it to the pile and pass it on to future generations.”

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