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(41:46; Profound Lore Records)
Track list: 1. Tectonic 6:17 2. Three Gates 5:35 3. Philae 7:53 4. Danube 7:08 5. Swollen Sun 4:02 6. The Vanishing 10:51 LINEUP: Dana Schechter - bass, lap steel, synthesizer Andy Patterson - drums with Ashley Spungin - synthesizer
Prolusion. US band INSECT ARK are based out of Brooklyn, and since 2011 the band have recorded three full length studio albums. "The Vanishing" is their most recent production, and was released through Profound Lore Records in February 2020.
Analysis. Insect Ark is one more example of a band that is venturing back and forth between multiple genre boundaries, or perhaps it is more truthful to say that they use elements from multiple genres and styles to craft and create their own particular mood and atmosphere. Be that as it may be, but they certainly create material that ventures a bit outside of the paths and landscapes one normally encounter as a reviewer. If a genre tag is needed, I guess post-metal would be among the more fitting here. The music here is dark, heavy and brooding, and contains multiple elements that may well appeal to fans of good, old fashioned doom metal. The dark, often monumental soundscapes created throughout this album first and foremost among those elements. That being said, this isn't a production that nods directly in the direction of doom metal as such, but more indirectly and possibly even by accident. Heavy set rhythms and booming bass and guitar sounds is a signature of this band, but even more so is the use of textured, gliding instrument sounds. Often layers of these, mainly produced by guitars and synthesizers. A particular detail for this band is the use of slide guitar / lap steel to add a bluesy, forlorn and at times strikingly gentle overlay or undercurrent to the proceedings, even giving these post metal goes doom escapades a touch of Americana at times. Nervous, fluttering guitar details and plucked guitars also makes appearances adding a gentler and calmer vibe to the proceedings, alongside cosmic and psychedelic sounds and effects. At times we are taken into sections of dark ambience as well, and on the creation 'Swollen Sun' we are also treated to a more elongated excursion into such landscapes. While this may well sound like an album with a great deal of variation, that isn't really the case either. While not exactly one-dimensional either, circulating and repeated motifs and arrangements is a key ingredient throughout to create a hypnotizing and engaging tension, with sounds coming and going as the main variation, while most developments build up over time, only rarely being abrupt or dramatic. As a total album experience this is a journey into a very distinct, dark universe, and it's been quite some time since I experienced anything similar to the landscapes created here. The use of lap steel / slide guitar in particular merits a mention again, as they are such striking details in the dark layers of sounds we are presented with here. All excellent put together too, to the point that one almost forgets that this is an instrumental album.
Conclusion. As already stated, if I should be forced to assign Insect Ark to a genre, then post-metal would be it. Mainly due to their extensive use of instrument textures, but also how the compositions ebb and flow in intensity. In a bit more detail, I'd say that we have a band here with a doom metal like sound, flavored with certain post-rock details and elements of a cosmic and psychedelic nature, with the lap steel / slide guitar details adding a more down to Earth flavor to the proceedings, with elements from both ambient music and noise music further expanding the palette explored. Dark, brooding and almost unearthly and forlorn music, and an album worth lending an ear to for just about anyone that thinks this description sounds alluring.
Progmessor: December 2020
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