Synth supergroup out of Albion stage their slow-burning sonic assault in front of audience.
Given their collective CV, these four sound sculptors are possessed by secret knowledge of creating moods that would propel them through time, if not space – probably because that space is rarely public, which is why the quartet’s live appearance in Royal College of Music in 2015 feels so special. Yet, given the ensemble’s name, their modulatory movements aren’t only natural but also regular, which is what makes the concert document more mesmerizing, and even revelatory, than the band’s studio endeavors. Both studio albums wouldn’t be explicitly referenced here anyway, with loose ends of the records’ themes evoked to be tied quite spectacularly.
Still, for all the sonic strangeness on display, the on-stage tracks are rather earthbound, with the streamlined glimmer of “Shinkansen North” and the tentative storm of “Shinkansen South” sprawling to conquer the listener’s mindscape at a paradoxically snail pace, as film composers Mel Wesson and Ed Buller merge their synthetic waves to lasso a delicate, albeit insistent, chug and create a sense of urgency before Dr. Dave Bessell’s guitar opens another dimension to this progressive trip. There’s delicious rawness in the oscillating lucidity which is gradually uncoiling in “Perpetuum Mobile” and the glacial excitement in “Arrival” where Flood’s bass lines rumble quietly among snippets of arresting tune. It’s but a feeble reverberation of what the audience were privileged to witness, yet repeated spins of this disc are rewarding in their own way: going from node to node, one is able to discover multiple layers of deep meaning.