Esoteric Antenna 2015
Time-warp blast from Oxford thrill-seekers getting in the loop of a wave and a particle.
Hints have been there all the way, even covers-wise: a submarine on this band’s 2012’s debut "Diving Bell" and an antenna on its next year’s successor "The Weight Of The World" clearly demonstrated the musicians’ preoccupation with waves – water and aerial. Nothing, still, hinted at the Oxfordians’ desire to revive the ideas harking back to 2002, when singing guitarist Joff Winks, bassist Brad Waissman and keyboard player Matt Baber were part of ANTIQUE SEEKING NUNS. But if the seeds of the dystopian tale, told in the CD booklet now, were sown early on, it took a more mature approach from the ensemble to flesh it out in sounds – lush enough to span across two discs – although to what extent music and lyrics reflect the story is a totally different question.
With a certain complementation in place, here’s a wide canvas for the quintet to paint on, and they do it unhurriedly, “Desolation Song” flowing in softly, if showing the funky signs of anxiety under its envelope of a melody, before the acoustic layer in “Drastic Attic” introduces a folk motif to the proceedings. When vibes sprinkle the punchy interplay on “Chat Show” and the falsetto-formed “Out Of Mind,” desperation turns sweet which sharpens the piece’s message, but the riffs leading into “Theft” make room for a piano and synthesizers only to regain control and up the rage. In its turn, the vocal-less “Cat Factory” overlaps mellifluously from art-rock into fusion, as its bottom end ebbs throughout the cut, while “On The Beach” floats on an organ solo offering a pre-storm calm, yet “End Of The Line” loses the impetus in its epic approach until a slider picks up the slack.
The scope’s not the problem here, as the even longer “Spanning The Eternal Abyss” proves by deepening the tune’s dynamics and pouring some idiosyncrasy, lace and, yes, radio waves in, whereas “Bubble Trouble” gets high on vibraphone’s ripple – jazzily riveting. And the finale, “Settle Down,” is living up to its title without, for once, following the story’s return to its beginning. As a result, there’s a light in the end of the tunnel, and it’s beautiful: thus, the HUM is impossible to ignore anymore.