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Saturday, January 16, 2016

Album Review: Intronaut – The Direction Of Last Things

Over their last three albums, post-proggers Intronaut have played things fast and loose. They are known for lurking between the dark polyrhythmic assault and vaulting angst of Periphery and the lighter, jazzier tendencies of Between The Buried And Me, but with this latest full-length they have tightened up the ship and worked hard to a create a flow to their music.

It’s not unusual to find them stumbling over the gritty hardcore edges that frequent the music of Monuments as they do for opener “Fast Worms”. Its raging chorus sees vocalist Sacha Dunable dishing out roars from behind a dark, powerful series of shreds. With the album constantly returning to themes such as the lunacy that lurks within the modern world, the capitulation of reason and the fragility of the human psyche, they pick some rather tasty, suitably insane lyrics to match.

“The pieces fit together
Like so many arms and legs,
Lifeless, limbless, body rejects”.

“Digital Gerrymandering” follows up on this by laying out its theatrics early with barking, downtuned strings – DJUN-DJUN DJUN. It’s pure Periphery but the artistic flourishes soon melt into complex, flowering structures of dots and splats. Riding around a strong central core, the glowing pop-fusion tech of Intervals and the furious stringwork of Animals As Leaders begins to break through. This abrupt switch from driven fervour to jazz interlude is strange but not, in the least, unwelcome.

The album’s weaker material hurts more when you consider the strong stuff. “City Hymnal” is a particular irksome beast and offers little in the way of direction – when you consider the album title, perhaps that’s the point. In the same vein, munching its way into existence with a literal NOM NOM NOM, “The Pleasant Surprise” is a one-dimensional scrawl of strings which digs away at you with the repetitious lyric “Gaps in the wall”.

Compare those two with the crushing title-track and “Sui Ponticello”. The former comes embedded with the rough-housing djentisms and snarling roars of Meshuggah all tipped into a maelstrom of double-kick and scrawling guitars. It all eventually spills into a hushed bridge; the aural equivalent of being torn apart by rip tides before being spat out onto the tranquil safety of a warm, sun-soaked beach. The latter track, the album highlight, bears a malevolent potency; a tapestry of rising and falling arpeggios, overwrought with taped threats.

With Devin Townsend mixing the squeaky tight production, this was never going to be an issue here. What irks are the peculiar structural anomalies and sense that they really are heading back over familiar territory. Blow me if they aren’t deconstructing here more than they are bringing something fresh to the table.

I must admit it is a surprise to find them boxing themselves into corners and not stamping their own mark on proceedings. It hasn’t stopped them sporting a kaleidoscope of polyrhythms and tones – proof that these LA boys are still brimming with promise. As for that flowing music they were hoping to create, they aren’t quite there just yet. There’s enough about The Direction Of Last Things though to prove one thing – surely it is just a matter of time before they crack the code and create a masterpiece.



Also online @ Ave Noctum = http://www.avenoctum.com/2015/12/intronaut-the-direction-of-last-things-century-media/
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