Stargazing at night is not something I do all the time. Weirdly, I always make a point to look into the stars every Wednesday evening, a long tradition about which I won’t bore you with details, but it’s always the time I try to reconnect with the universe and continue to wonder what lies beyond our realm. What stories are out there we’ll never know?
“Continuum,” the second record from long-running English instrumental band Sons of Alpha Centauri, made me think a lot more about the universe during the time I’ve spent with these eight songs. This effort, their first full-length since their 2007 self-titled debut, pulls back from the stoner rock vibes much of the other music centers on (they do claims bands such as Yawning Man and Karma to Burn as close allies) as expands further into the beyond. The music they create is fascinating and can open your mind to dreaming and wondering. It’s not always the heaviest thing on earth, which it doesn’t need to be, but the music definitely packs some gritty punches while they’re taking you on a mental and spiritual journey. The band—guitarist Marlon King, bassist Nick Hannon, drummer Stevie B., and noise/texture guru Blake—worked with former ISIS/current Palms member Aaron Harris on these tracks, and I’m not sure if it’s his influence, but the music should find favor among those who choose to dine on the flesh of post-rock and post-metal. Think something between Pelican and Clouds Taste Satanic, and any newcomer will have a pretty good idea what’s in store.
“Into the Abyss” starts the record on a spacey, strange note, as the music slowly opens and begins to spill into the atmosphere, leading to “Jupiter” that gets punchy right off the bat. Synth becomes a murky cloud, while gentle guitars liquify and stream through your consciousness, feeling almost like a Rush song. The track gets jazzy leading to charging riffs, grime, and a blistering end. “Solar Storm” is both buzzing and catchy, as the guitars drive hard, and the synth swallows you in its mysterious pocket. There even are elements of dripping deathrock here, with leads soaring out of that, and the tempo getting faster, barreling to a bruising finish. “Io” is based in fog and swampiness, with moody guitars striking out to the cosmos, and the melodies feeling like early morning, as you stamp the dew and gaze at the outline of the fading moon. The riffs tougher up later, jolting you out of your comfort.
“Surfacing for Air” is built on ’80s synth, guitars trickling like runoff from a drizzle, and everything heading toward the drain. “Interstellar” has intergalactic keys zapping and cold guitars sending a chill, before we head into serenity for a quick breather. New riffs climb out of the ground, with the band hitting the gas pedal before things slow down, and then we head into a hypnotic outro. “Orbiting Jupiter” has pianos dripping and the drama sweeping, feeling like the entrance to the record’s big crescendo, the 10:52 closer “Return Voyage.” The beginning is a reflective pool, with keys again emerging from space, and guitars swimming before getting jagged. The pace chugs ahead for a bit before serenity sets back in, as eerie synth blankets the area, and an infusion of atmosphere brings a charge. Finally, the tempo returns to its more aggressive patterns, with the leads churning, smoke rising, and the song bleeding out in an alien haze.
I could use more time remembering the incredible blackness in which we’re all enveloped, and a record such as “Continuum” might be the right avenue to get there. Sons of Alpha Centauri have packed a lot of music into their run, despite only two full-lengths, and it’s fun to hear them adding new influences and textures to what they do. This is an ideal album for a late evening outside, chair titled toward the stars, while you imagine what you might find if you got to explore the great beyond.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/sonsofalphacentauri/
To buy the album, go here: https://sonsofalphacentauri.bandcamp.com/album/continuum