Intronaut have switched label homes for their sixth full-length studio album, ‘Fluid Existential Inversions’, so it’s bye bye, Century Media and hello, Metal Blade. Has anything else changed since 2015’s ‘The Direction of Last Things’? Well, guitarist/vocalist Sacha Dunable, bassist Joe Lester and guitarist Dave Timnick remain, although longtime drummer Danny Walker left in 2018, and has been replaced by Whitechapel’s recently recruited session/touring sticksman, Alex Rüdinger. Musically? Intronaut are very much still Intronaut although, arguably, their innovative compositional dynamic is in a constant state of flux, and they continue to push both genre and their own parameters on ‘Fluid Existential Inversions’. It’s an album title that could very well apply to their artistic approach, as much as it could to Dunable’s proffered meaning of, “the involuntary instability facing humans, and all life is ever-evolving on Earth in these turbulent, uncertain times. Whether it's real, imagined, being simulated, who knows, but we do know that our existence itself is confusing and absurd.”
As if reflecting Dunable’s explanation of the title, the music on the album challenges, surprises, delights, frustrates, invigorates, angers and pacifies through all manner of twists and turns, and executed with virtuosic precision. And I’m talking twists and turns that occur both between and within songs, and even between and within contiguous bars of music. I find that if you always expect the unexpected with Intronaut, then it’s a far more enjoyable ride; to allow yourself to be taken on that ride, with all the varying emotions it offers for your own experiential delights and torments… just like life itself. Just like the semantics of the album title. Songs aren’t always easy or palatable to digest but, again, that’s life, right?
Throughout the album, the musicianship is breathtaking. And the players all gel together fluently across some rather intricate and challenging time signatures, within the fluidity of compositional diversity. And respect to the guys for their organic virtuosity… it never feels like mindless technical widdle, as music of this nature so often can. It might create a distance through dissonance, or perhaps a particularly challenging passage that ostensibly has no accessible handles (repeat listens resolves that very nicely, though), but I was never once left feeling cold through any sense of virtuosity just for the sake of virtuosity. There’s natural, genuine progression here, peeps. Tons of the very lovely stuff. It’s also worth noting that keys have been brought into Intronaut’s sound on this new one (mellotron and analogue synths, I gather), which work as an integral part of the whole, rather than dominating at any particular point.
An album of drastic contrasts, yet seamlessly melded contrasts, which range from the sublimely gentle, to the discordantly heavy, ‘Fluid Existential Inversions’ is the kind of album that reinforces the original meaning of the term “progressive” in music. There’s no genre mimicry or regurgitation of prior progressive idioms to be heard here. A little pastiche, for sure, but it’s genuine progression all the way, on an album that sounds like a bunch of guys who are challenging their own technical abilities as much as they are, dare I say, their artistic sensibilities. Brilliant stuff.
FLUID EXISTENTIAL INVERSIONS
Review by Mark Holmes
28th February 2020
1) Procurement of the Victuals
3) The Cull
5) Speaking of Orbs
7) Check Your Misfortune
9) Sour Everythings
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
“…always expect the unexpected with Intronaut, then it’s a far more enjoyable ride… with all the varying emotions it offers for your own experiental delights and torments… just like life itself.”