REVIEW: INTRONAUT – “The Direction Of Last Things”
The first time I heard Intronaut, I was instantly hooked. They weren’t one of those bands that needed multiple listens to get used to, yet they definitely brought something unique to the table. All four members are extremely talented and always seem to know the perfect balance of groove and intricacy in every song, on every album – and ‘The Direction Of Last Things’ is no exception. While busier and heavier than previous releases ‘Habitual Levitations’ and ‘Valley Of Smoke’, this fifth addition to their discography is reminiscent of a cleaner version of their early material. This more polished sound is likely due to the recruitment of the legendary Devin Townsend on the production side of things. The mix is very crisp with plenty of depth, allowing you to really get a grasp on Intronaut’s usual beautiful blend of mellow chaos.
Based on the pre-released single “Fast Worms”, fans already know that ‘The Direction Of Last Things’ is an intense record. Although Intronaut have certainly kicked up the pace several notches in general, once those instrumental bridge sections come in, it all becomes familiar and soothing, particularly during the moments when that fretless bass shines, courtesy of the mighty Joe Lester. The following track, “Digital Gerrymandering”, is a personal favorite of mine, beginning quite menacingly, then launching into layers of wonky guitar licks with crashing quarter notes in the background. As the song develops, the standard Intronaut vocal harmonies guide the listener into a glorious jazzy 7/4 funk that makes me want to dance and headbang simultaneously.
Next up is “The Unlikely Event Of A Water Landing”, which fans of comedian George Carlin will certainly appreciate before even hearing it. The song’s eerie opening gives way to a light and catchy rhythm in a compound time of 9/4, the vocals just hovering over top, and the hi hat dancing gently. Then the growls show up, accentuated by snare shots, and it becomes a delicate seesaw of harshness and tranquil poignancy. Then my ultimate favorite track comes on: “Sul Ponticello”. This is something that I would show to someone who has yet to familiarize themselves with Intronaut. The syncopated jazzy sections in 6/4 are killer, and get better with each variation throughout the song. Drummer Danny Walker’s accents add fantastic dynamics, as per usual. He has a great instinct when it comes to the creative placement of his beats, with almost magical cymbal work. Another element that makes this track (and the album as a whole) superb is how well the guitar-vocal combination of Sacha Dunable and Dave Timnick works. If you thought that they complimented each other perfectly before, you will undoubtedly love what they have been working on here, and it also comes through in the title track, “The Direction Of Last Things”. You can feel the two feeding off of each other as though they were performing it live in front of you. Then throw the way that Lester and Walker fill in the negative space on top of that, and the result is this technical, sludgy prog that the band is known for.
‘The Direction Of Last Things’ is precisely what Intronaut fans will expect, with a refined twist. As per their style, they have once again managed to fuse comforting melodies and rhythms with a rough complexity that is unique to their sound. The syncopation is more intense than ever, and the overall feel of this album is heavier, while the vocals seem to be morphing into a more polished form – but no matter how much they evolve in any direction, they seem to stay consistent and true to the Intronaut that we know and love. With only seven tracks, the album is kept short and sweet, leaving their fanbase counting down the days until the next one.