Last week’s, NASA’s New Horizon spacecraft passed Pluto and gave us a better idea of what exists on that faraway world that no one in our lifetime, barring a miracle of epic proportions, ever will visit. It was fascinating to see what was captured as the craft flew by, and in my head, I couldn’t help but wonder what a soundtrack to that experience would be. Funny, but I later realized I had that collection of music right there on my iPhone.
It’s not that Locrian make space music. Not intentionally anyway. But their dream-inducing soundscapes and charging forays into cosmic darkness really are perfect for gazing at the first visions of a planet tucked deep into our solar system, or simply staring a hole into the night sky. For years now, the band has been weaving doom, ambiance, black metal, post-rock, and all kinds of mesmerizing sounds to create a sci-fi friendly world that could help you take journeys in your mind. Over their countless releases, the Chicago-based band has been a go-to act when it comes to indulging in experimental sounds that have a human (or is that alien?) heart that gets inside of you. Unless you need your music down the middle and by the numbers, it’s impossible not to get swept away, and that definitely is the case with their new full-length “Infinite Dissolution,” the follow-up to 2013’s incredible “Return to Annihilation.”
The three heads that come together to make this exemplary, characteristic sound are André Foisy (guitars, electronics, piano), Terrence Hannum (myriad Moog synths and other electronic goodies), and Steven Hess (drums percussion, electronics). On this album, they stretch their cinematic visions further than ever before, dressing these nine tracks with oxygen-infused wonder, stabbing chaos when the need strikes, caterwauling atmosphere, and strange melodies. It’s an album that might take some time and a few visits to really set itself in your heart and mind, but you’re bound to appreciate and relish each journey, finding new layers every time you dive inside.
“Arc of Extinction” begins the album with a colorful synth haze, with drone clouds rolling, beats dropping slowly, and the temp taking its time to build in full. The track then opens fully, with screaming situated in the background, ominous riffs arriving, and guitars dizzying and burning as a dose of speed arrives to crash land at the finish line. “Dark Shales” feels cold and of the stars, with moody playing, guitars bustling, and a calm settling over. Everything goes into a chill, almost like you can see ice capsules forming, and that trickles into the first of three “KXL” tracks, this one initially feeling windy and mechanical. Charnel gusts push in, with thick synth lines leading the way, guitars blending in with them, and distortion charging up and bursting. Wild pockets of noise shriek in the distance, with the beats churning, and the song spilling right into “The Future of Death.” This one is another that could have you questioning your state on consciousness, as a lather of keys spark thoughts of mid-1980s Rush, a more rock-oriented tempo arrives, and howled vocals give the track and extra shove.
“An Index of Air” is driven by deliberate drumming, with zaps stinging and the swirls gathering overhead. The first half of the track has a long, carefully constructed build, as screams erupt, the assault begins to pound without remorse, and the guitars light brighter, more unpredictable fire. A mist settles in, with the emotions at a high point, muted singing sits on the horizon (sounding a bit like Mike Patton underground), and a gust of noise floods over the scene and eventually fades away. “KXL II” arrives, with chirps and static charges comprising its DNA, and then it’s into “The Great Dying,” a track that moves disarmingly serenely when it arrives. Voices call out, as if ghosts stuck in time, and guitars gaze behind the scene, creating the texture. As the song goes, it gains more and more life, with cool melodies bustling and chant-like vocals echoing out at the song’s close. “Heavy Water” has glimmering synth, noises pumping, and shrieks tearing out of the middle of the picture. A heavy psychedelic storm pushes through, causing the skies to jolt with light and the ground to become saturated. When it’s over, the song will be so thick, you’ll have to work your way through blind. Closer “KXL III” feels like an alien transmission, a hopeful signal sent out across the universe hoping someone will hear and respond. Its static and electronic impulses are the final things you hear on the record, making you wonder if someone from another world hears this music, if they’d know what to make of the experience.
Locrian’s music keeps morphing into deeper, stranger corners, and “Infinite Dissolution” is one of their highest peaks. This collection is like none other in their catalog (granted you can say pretty much that same thing about most of their work), and as noted, it’s perfect for looking deep into the night skies and wondering what’s boiling on worlds we’ll never know exist. Locrian’s music always promises something that takes you into the beyond, and they’ve yet to disappoint us.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/LocrianOfficial
To buy the album, go here: http://www.relapse.com/store.html
For more on the label, go here: www.relapse.com/