With deeply skewed melodies scraping in and out of the jarring whirlpool of percussion and noise, Shaquille McNeill’s debut EP “Testing Grounds” is equal parts abrasive and beautiful. Forming Golden Girls in the early 2010’s, Shaquille, a veteran of the Melbourne art-punk scene, found a cathartic relationship with electronics and programming that allowed him to move forward as a musician, allowing him to build and expand upon his punk and guitar based roots.
Composed, recorded, and produced while on hard lockdown in Melbourne, Australia during the Covid pandemic, this EP explores complex ideas about the unpredictability of life and relationships. The lead single “To all my friends and lovers (I’m sorry)” showcases Shaq’s talent for gorgeous melodies, with intersecting guitar lines over heavily swung lo-fi house rhythms, bringing a broad and inclusive sonic palette to the listener’s ear. The tracks “Unity”, “Serious Bent Shit”, and “VVITCHES”, delve into the psychedelic experience through mutated synth lines, ethereal distortion, and broken wonky beats . As the name suggests, “Testing Grounds” is as deep as it is experimental, with an honesty and vulnerability that gives listeners a peek into Shaq’s mind and artistic process.