Like the fluidly intermingled strands and half-remembered flickers of some outrageously elaborate nightmare, there’s something wondrously curious and surreal about ‘Automata II’. Is it the almost seamlessly improbable ease with which its bristling, tautly muscular textures melt away beneath richly sumptuous layer upon layer of glimmering fretwork? Or the endlessly whirling flurries of notey intricacies whose kaleidoscopic symmetries lure the listener deeper and deeper into a dream-like thrall far removed from this waking realm? Whatever curious alchemy these North Carolina visionaries are dealing in, theirs is a heady and disorientating brew by all accounts.
With this immense body of work forming just one half of a hotly anticipated two-part album release, ‘Automata II’s’ mind-altering audio is rich with evidence of its tautly interconnected conceptual threads of dystopian horror. And despite its astonishingly expansive plethora of scalding technical complexities, abrasive bouts of aggression and stirringly grandiose, Dream Theater-esque fretwork, thirteen-minute epic ‘The Proverbial Bellow’ displays striking ease and coherence in managing this vast melange of influences. From lusciously rich, reverb-laden arrangements and churning stints of extreme metal through to arena-worthy solos that leave the synapses crackling with adrenaline, this restlessly energised standout makes for relentlessly absorbing listening. From here, our wending, wormhole-like progression ever deeper into ‘Automata II’ sees ‘Glide’ plunge the listener headlong into a nightmarish undertow of whirling accordion and luscious piano notes that abound with almost Vaudeville-style, ink-black panache.
With all the dark, densely intermingled potency of lingering cigarette smoke, feverish sweat and stale perfume, ‘Voice of Trespass’ is positively awash with sultry strains of jazz and crushingly expansive groove. Tingeing these giddy, restlessly energised throes with generous lashings of abrasive guitars and hauntingly immense cleans that echo like restless spirits from the beyond, it’s a decidedly eerie, hallucinogenic turn. Wrapped up with ‘The Grid’s’ deft balancing of blissfully serene guitars and gargling, unearthly horror, few acts are capable of crafting such varied yet seamlessly coherent material.
'Automata II' is out now on Sumerian
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