By: Alex Crellin
Understated Theory | facebook |
Released on September 22, 2015 via Sparkwood Records
Juxapparition, the latest album by two piece Understated Theory, an ambient post-rock band with heavy leaning towards the ambient side. And it’s very, very good. Seriously. Go listen to it. Why are you reading this? Open bandcamp right now and buy this album. It’s probably one of the deepest, most introspective and thought-provoking album you will hear this year.
The depth in the production is clear from the opening pad on the first track. ‘Where Chaos Sleeps’ is a slow build, never really reaching a high point. It’s methodical, and knows exactly what it is. And it works! Usually, spaced-out ambient pieces run the risk of being boring (gasp!) but both the opening track and its follower, ‘Apparition’, hold just the right amount of tension under their surfaces to stay fresh.
That said, tension is nothing if there is no release. And a ten-track album full of tracks like the first two would fall into the trap of being a bit samey. Thankfully, Understated Theory know exactly what they’re doing. The album shifts tone. ‘Look Right Through You’ is when I knew Juxtapparition was not just a good album, but a bloody fantastic one. An alien-like buzz is persistent in the back of the track, forcing your attention to the piece subliminally. Synths that sound like they’re straight from a dying planet drift into the foreground. Halfway through the track everything dies down and a lone guitar rises from the ashes. If the first half was a soundtrack to a peaceful death, the latter is music for a rebirth. There’s hope in the sound, and it’s utterly beautiful. This album would be worth buying for this track alone.
But wait, there’s more! ‘Mirrors’ is all build, with a payoff like no other at the end. ‘Aviation Trails’ is another piece of brilliance, showcasing a more electronic side of the group. The production is sharp, and it will have any listener swaying and bobbing to the beat. ‘Decoy’ is much more experimental, giving an other-worldly feel thanks to well placed distortions and screeches. It fits well within the album as a whole.
Juxtapparition is a masterpiece in alien music. The tight instrumentation is minimal, providing exactly what it needs. It’s smart, introspective music, and it screams atmosphere. The intricacies of each piece deserve multiple listens. Despite this, I never once felt it was a chore to listen to. They don’t so much demand your attention, but rather ask politely, and I was honestly pleased to give it to them.