The Current is one of those experiences which is impossible to truly represent in all of its depths and rich effects on the imagination and nervous system through mere words. The new album from US psych-prog band Midday Veil, it is a masterful deeply enveloping release which is as intimidating and challenging as it is magnetic and mesmerising. It is aural alchemy, a cosmic journey of emotions and energy which are simultaneously transformed into a potently hued soundscape of invasive colour and imposing shadows, and one of the most tantalising and enthralling albums this year.
The Seattle band began in 2008 with Texan vocalist/songwriter Emily Pothast and ‘analog synth-head’ David Golightly collaborating on writing and creating music. Expanding in the early part of the following year with guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Timm Mason joining the pair as well as bassist Jayson Kochan, drummer Chris Pollina, and percussionist Sam Yoder, Midday Veil unveiled their debut album Eyes All Around in 2010. It was well-received by the underground media but it was with the following pair of improvised cassette releases, Subterranean Ritual II and Integratron of 2011 and ’12 respectively which really lit a fire in the passions of experimental/progressive fans. Recorded in an acoustically perfect wooden dome built with “extraterrestrial guidance” on a magnetic vortex in the Mojave desert, the pair of releases thrust the band onto another level creatively and in awareness. Now the quintet, with drummer Garrett Moore the only change in personnel since the project began, have returned to deliberately sculpted songwriting with The Current whilst reaping the same fluidity and imaginative intensity and looseness which drove the previous releases.
Released via Translinguistic Other Records, the album is immediately provoking and teasing the ear through the title track and its cosmic discord lit pokes within a strong rhythmic frame around the brewing synth narrative which soon colours the imagination. The vibrant bass roam brings further warmth to the table but it is the wonderful seductive tones of Pothast which shower heat and evocative caresses upon thoughts and emotions. There is a definite soulful swagger to the song’s dance which brings a festival mischief to the progressive heart of the song though waiting you sense darker eyes and intensity also at work. Increasingly more persuasive and sultry as it progresses deeper into its cosmical sun, the track leaves thoughts soaring and investigating their own imagination as it effortlessly evolves into its successor.
Choreia just as its predecessor is a startling piece of sonic storytelling, the instrumental another astronomical venture with crystalline shards of synth and equally endurable melodies lighting up the sky of the song as below a primal rhythmic repetition parades a commanding tango of intrigue and menace. A slight doom coaxing wraps the underlying almost predatory course of the flight whilst above guitars and keys expand their orchestral bred beauty with again a constantly building intensity. Evocative and powerful, the piece is a ravishing sonic painting which simply engulfs the listener in irresistible grandeur and suggestive peril.
Again as with each segment of the creative landscape that is The Current, next up Remember Child flows from its companion, a haunting chant like ambience providing an inviting yet chilling drone of an invitation which almost secretively ebbs and flows before rhythmic walls emerge to slowly cage the dramatic and evolving sonic blizzard. Not exactly dissipating but certainly fusing into a melodic and harmonic sunrise with the vocals once more sirenesque, the song continues its ambitious and successful preternatural persuasion before transforming into the just as entrancing Without and Within. Soaked in a Middle Eastern influence and elegant acoustic beauty the song is simply extraordinary, its haunting Siouxsie and The Banshees like vocal and melodic sway a transportation into shadowed mystique and other worldly mystery. The biggest pinnacle of the album is really is hard to portray here the glory and majesty of the track.
Sun Stone is a verging on corrosive drift through caustic climes, an instrumental of synapse grazing chills bringing stronger danger forward to temper the persuasion of the previous song and the closing eleven minute plus epic Great Cold of the Night. The closing song again has that Eastern ambience within a welcome electronic nagging speared by intensive flames of guitar encouraged further by the mutually persistent rhythmic pressurising. The song is an adventure all on its own, its heat and smouldering rapaciousness offering a vibrant and colourful emprise coated in intimidation and threatening shadows.
Produced by Randall Dunn (Sunn O))), Master Musicians of Bukkake), The Current is an exceptional exploit with a transfixing and invigorating soundscape. Dark and glamorous, psychologically spine-chilling and meditatively enthralling, the album is genius and Midday Veil sonic sculptors it is hard to know whether to embrace or distrust.
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