Being in a toxic relationship can sometimes feel like being lost in a maze. Every attempt to turn a corner lands you back where you started. Austra a.k.a. Katie Austra Stelmanis' fourth album, "HiRUDiN", is both a bold acknowledgement of such patterns of behaviour and a testament to the power of breaking them.
"HiRUDiN" sees Austra taking an entirely different, free-spirited approach to making a record. Seeking out all new collaborators, she booked three days of sessions in Toronto with improv musicians she'd never met before. Accumulating a vast and vibrant mass of source material, Austra holed up in a studio in the Spanish countryside and took a collage approach to sampling, arranging, writing and producing to reveal the songs that would form the album. "HiRUDiN" additionally saw her work alongside co-producers for the first time, Rodaidh McDonald and Joseph Shabason, and she brought in David Wrench and Heba Kadry to mix and master the record respectively.
While Austra's third album, "Future Politics", was concerned with the external power structures that shape society, "HiRUDiN" points inward. Named after the peptide released by leeches that is the most potent anticoagulant in the world, it is about the importance of healing the self, letting go of harmful influences, and finding the power to rebuild through exploring your innermost desires. It reaps the rewards of Austra's leap into the unknown, in her most introspective yet inventive statement to date.