Extropy are a band from ... well i can't really tell where they are from. They are a two-member act. I think. The wording on the CD is very vague. "Original waveform manipulation (digital) archived by D. Andrus and J. Savage," it reads. I guess that means they made the music on a computer. But the sleeve also says that "wavedata perspectives analyzed and compiled by A. Andrus". Does that mean that A. Andrus was the recording engineer while D. Andrus worked the computers? Who can tell?
And their website is no help. It is one of those very artistic, but difficult to navigate, Flash-based sites. Now, i do web development for a living, and let me tell you people: Flash is a privilege, not a right. Don't make me take it away from you... Still, it's a visually interesting site, even if the navigation is almost impossible to figure out.
However, well, i guess none of that matters, right? Let the music speak for itself. Well, it does speak for itself, and it does so quite well.
You see, the music on Lethe is not exactly like anything i have heard before. I guess i would classify Extropy as an electronic goth act. Maybe that means an electronic act with gothy vocals, or a goth band with computer mangled beats. Either one works. Add into the mix some classic rock sounding guitarwork (long, high solos interspersed throughout), and you have a weird goth/IDM/rock fusion that is, well, not really like anything i have heard before.
And the thing is, it works. Really. About 6 months ago when
the band mailed us this promo, and i first listened to this
album, i listened in something akin to bemusement. The guitarwork
sounds kind of cheesy, and the keyboards are very dark and mysterious,
almost stereotypically so. And yet, by god, it really works
together. Now, i wouldn't have believed that if you had told
me, but it does work, i tell you.
Perhaps it would help if i just described the music. There are nine pieces on the disc, although some of them are short instrumental interludes. None of the nine tracks are boring though, so that's something.
The first track exists in three movements, each named on the back of the CD sleeve. It starts with Intercept, which is a nice spacey keyboard drone that almost sounds like it came off of a Robert Rich album. Then the guitarwork, drums, and subdued, mopey voice kick in, and Inquisitor becomes a nice mid-80's style gothic dance tune. Think Sisters of Mercy, although nowhere near as overblown or pretentious. Then it fades out with Excavation, a nice subtle piano outro.
Cinderel starts with a really nice electronic interlude that reminds
me a lot of the work of Project
Skyward. It is spacey and very modern sounding, but still
kind of catchy. Very nicely done. The song swells up with guitar
(again, cheesy in a way, like a misplaced solo from a Poison
album or something), and some half-heard vocals. The basswork
is really nice, all dark and throbbing, like something from
The Cure. In fact, this song is pretty durned cool. A strange
mix of sounds, but cool. It fades out with a glitched beat and
another nice piano outro.
It fades right into Lacuna, in which the glitchy beat and the piano
are joined with guitar that echoes heavily like something off
of The Cure's Disintegration album. Eventually
the echo calms down to a more strumming, almost acoustic, style
of playing, and the beat swells up to become almost ravey. The
throbbing beat disintegrates into noisy glitch popping behind
a lovely piano bit. The song then fades imperceptibly into Laconic
in which the glitchy beat backs up some guitarwork consisting
of heavily echoed trebly arpeggios that remind me of that Ova
Looven album. Again, a strange mix of sounds, but they really
work well together.
The interlude Radiomorphology is next. It is a lovely 2 minutes of acoustic guitar and dubby drumming. It fades into Anhydrous, which is a dramatic, noisy tune with plenty of guitar and some strong vocals. It gets really noisy by the end, then abruptly stops.
In the silence after Anhydrous a faint piano echoes, eventually joined by quiet acoustic guitar in a track simply titled > (yes, the title of this track is a "greater than" symbol). This is a very lovely interlude. Anastasis then comes in with a nicely computer mangled beat and some very lovely acoustic guitarwork. The keyboard atmospherics that back up the beat and the guitar are rather lovely too. Again, it's a strange mix: part Aphex Twin, part Paul Simon, and part Steve Roach.
Finally we have the album's closer and title track, Lethe. The intro part of this song really reminds me of Aphex Twin's classic tune On, with a stuttering beat and a long tinkling keyboard part. Eventually the guitar and the vocals are back, and the song rocks its way towards the end of the album.
Really, this is a strange mix of sounds. I said above that i received the promo six months ago, and have balked at writing a review. Every time i write about it, i think i fail to do it justice. Yes, it does involve a very disparate set of sounds, but they really work well together. Another problem is that i am not sure who the target audience for this album is. Will goths like it? How about IDM fans? I dunno about either of those groups. I doubt that fans of classic rock guitarwork will like it, but i could be wrong.
It's an interesting album, and i think that it says something very favorable about the band that they are able to make it work as well as it does. So, kudos to them.
And it is interesting music. Really.