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STEREO EMBERS ALBUM PREVIEW – “High and Dry” from Alien Gothic (A Shoreline Dream, Gennesier)

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For some musicians, one band or project just isn’t enough. Their drive and curiosity (inseparable as those two are in all of us) combine into a creative restlessness that won’t let go. Even if the origin band – say, A Shoreline Dream, for instance – is a success by just about any indie metric, you can bet that there are frontiers of sound and mood and aesthetic intent lurking just beyond the artists’ horizon pulling at them with a sort of spiritual, even unearthly magnetism, frontiers that, left unexplored, would haunt just about their every waking step. So it was with ASD’s Ryan Pollicky and Andy Uhrmacher of Gennesier whose work as Alien Gothic lands today like a burst of halogen energy in the form of their (very) full-length debut album High and Dry on Latenight Weeknight Records, which itself follows on the heels of previously-released preview tracks “Shine the Lights” and “In The Night,” the latter of which in video form which, in case you missed it and to further tweak your interest…

Essentially a soundtrack to a fever-dreamed alien experience as essayed by two Denverites who’ve simultaneously lost and found their cosmic way and have chosen to relate that trip and its many experiences via this expansive collaborative effort, using every one of the many skills, effects and gizmos they had at their inventive and talented disposal, High and Dry, reference-wise, asks us to imagine Chrome crashing into Negativland on a rare ethereal-gaze bender, resulting in something akin to an ecstatic – if beautifully conjured – madness. The newest original ‘postcards from the edge,’ then, High and Dry plays like a 17-track thesis on the vast emotional, well, alienation and turmoil felt not only by our intrepid musical travelers but when, as intended, interpreted through a wider, more general lens, every single one of us cruising on our own particular planetary ship toward an uncertain fate.

A splendid noise throughout, careening here, caressing there, soothing in one passage unsettling in the next, inhabiting both a harsh luminescence and a sense of hope teetering on a razor’s edge then somehow blending those seemingly contrary states of being into a single long moment of compositional bliss, High and Dry is the kind of existential and not-a-little-frightening roller coaster ride that rewards at every turn (a juxtaposition perhaps nowhere better exemplified than by the way the end of the remarkable “Rat in the System” judders with fear and violence just before it breaks into muffled applause but then again such crosswires of tension and release are, in a very real sense, the very essence that animates this record, which is why it has us so much in its grip). 

We – and by ‘we’ I mean the staff here at SEM and all those of you out there waiting for your next fix – don’t often get treated to experiences like this, a record that, in however oblique a way, crash lands into your consciousness with an impact comparable to reading Burroughs the first time or, more accurately for this writer, seeing 2001: A Space Oddity on an enormous (for the time) screen when he was 12 years old. There’s a resonance here, one that jars loose a heretofore unexplored corner of cool audio possibility where a hint of infinity, fractured yet mesmerizing, is offered you in the tightly-contained space of an hour-plus. It is, to put it bluntly, really quite mind-blowing and we’re stoked to present to you. See you on the other side…

[for those of you who prefer to go straight to Bandcamp, where you can handily and happily buy the album right now, well, here ya go]