Pelican - Ataraxia/Taraxis EP
Instrumental quartet Pelican have been pigeonholed as post-rock, post-metal, sludge, and other genres under the alternative umbrella; but no genre has confidently raised its hands and claimed the band from Chicago, Illinois to be its own. From the debut Australasia, to their third full length City of Echoes (known to have been influenced by the effects of continuous touring), the four musicians combine to make picturesque, yet heavy music whose genes have not yet been cloned. These genes anchor an unmistakable atmosphere, drawing comparisons to the crushing heaviness of Harvey Milk, the ambient beauty of Isis, and the compelling complexity of Tusk (the final comprised members of Pelican, so unsurprising really!). This latest release is the first since the band moved to the Southern Lord label and brought us What We All Come to Need in 2009. Both honing that accustomed atmosphere and dropping in a different spice, this return merits a warm welcome.
‘Ataraxia’ and ‘Taraxis’ are the EP’s title tracks, mildly flecking this release with adroit acoustic guitar and pinches of synthesiser. The former paints a post-apocalyptic scene; its phlegmatic guitar pickings and vast soundscape creating that uneasy feeling of being alone in a city brought to dust and trying to fathom what happened. There is a faint murmur throughout the song, giving that cinematic feeling of a plane searching for survivors – almost as if this EP begins at an end. The latter has a similar cinematic feel but its acoustic chords pack a punch, crescendoing to almost prevent its crooning electric guitar from escaping the acoustic thicket. Sandwiched between the title tracks are two slabs of what any Pelican fan would predict to hear: heavy workings of multi-layered, dextrous guitar work and a juggling of various tempos and moods. There is an obvious fifty-fifty split here; is this the gradual beginning of a new creative apex?