Aesthesys – Alignments
Post Rock | Instrumental
Though I’ve found myself digging deeper into instrumental releases in the past couple of years, they still seldom get featured on the site. That shouldn’t be all that surprising however as the same is true of almost everywhere that music is consumed or discussed. When you think about it most music throughout history has been solely instrumental, but as far as modern sensibilities are concerned we’ve been conditioned to expect vocals to be at the centre of every piece of popular music. It’s akin to missing out on amazing cinema because the film has subtitles or is in black and white. Often instrumental tracks don’t get the attention they deserve and we’re left with the impression that there’s just something missing, some important piece of the puzzle that’s needed to tell a story.
With their new release Alignments Russian post rock outfit Aesthesys continue to push back against this idea by creating some of the most engaging instrumentals you’ll ever hope to hear. A concept album detailing a cyberpunk future, complete with advanced AI and robotics, space exploration, and software that dictates our lives, it offers a level of worldbuilding on par with any writer worth their salt. With complex rhythms wonderfully emblematic of a world of discovery and advancement, and soaring soundscapes that capture the scale of a world far beyond the limits of our own. With cold shimmering electronica depicting both the innovation and the isolation of what awaits us, and wild frenzied guitar tones that show the same struggles, prejudices and injustices that still eat away at society despite the illusion of progress. This album says so much without ever uttering a word.
By making a more cohesive album in order to help build an atmosphere, the tracks can sometimes blend into each other a bit more than on their previous releases, however there are still plenty of stand out moments to be found. The savage frenetic riffs of ‘Transcendants’ injects so much energy into the record, while ‘Obey’ condenses everything that makes the album great into one potent little package. ‘Hello World’ opens with an aura of suspense and intrigue before taking a turn halfway through and hitting you with a series of emphatic walls-of-sound that feel like they should soundtrack the trailer for some new sci-fi blockbuster. The incredible drum work was a big selling point of the last release and I’m pleased to report that it continues into Alignments, however the bass is hot on its tails this time around. Whether it’s in the gut punch tones of ‘Black Swans’ or the intricate groove of ‘Better Stranger’, the bass really impressed me here. The latter track in particular proved to be the album’s crowning glory, with the incredible rhythm section duelling away behind a dazzling keyboard cascade.
There’s probably a deeper reason behind why so little instrumental music winds up on the site, one that delves into our attitudes to music as a society, but the simple answer is that when you spend your time basking in the best you tend to then set your standards very high. With this record Aesthesys remain the gold standard for me, and whatever dystopian future that awaits us can’t be all that bad if it has records as engaging as this one to keep us going.