Exploded View dig deeper and darker into an industrial underbelly of noise, on their superb new record ‘Obey’.
After last winter’s excellent Summer Came Early EP, Exploded View return with their most nuanced and textural record yet, adopting a sparse and more orchestrated post-punk sound. Compared to their debut, Obey seers itself into the listener’s psyche. From the discordant drones of Lullaby to the motorik rhythms of Dark Stains, it is clear that Annika and company set out to produce a record that rewards listeners who persevere.
I’m not saying the records is a slog. Sleepers is a doom-laden Lynchian romp with cascading synths that contrast well with Annika’s ever-ethereal vocals floating somewhere in the stratosphere. Aforementioned Dark Stains is a dance-goth single with suitably obtuse lyricism: “Well I believe you / But I believe you / I have witnessed the dark stains of your soul.” Because, who hasn’t witnessed the horrific underbelly of the ones you love(d)?
And while it’s clear that the record is indebted to the more experimental ideas of everybody’s favourite decade, each track is markedly different to the previous. Equally pleasurable as it is discomforting, it makes Obey a more cohesive and rewarding listen.
Every accessible track is bookended by another, more experimental one. While the first half acts as a taster, the second is a bit more of a challenge. Sure, this could be a criticism, and I’m sure many listener’s will be put off by the loose arrangements of the second side. Letting Go of Childhood Dreams is certainly an acquired taste, with its Kate Bush whimsy and simple message. Raven Raven, is a krautrock inspired death-waltz, that wouldn’t sound out of place on Esben and the Witch’s first few albums. The closer, Rant channels the industrial throb of early Ministry, and various other bleeps and bloops.
Obey is as passionate as it is reserved. Sure, it could use a few more hooks here and there, but most groups attempting the push the envelope receive similar accusations. If you enjoy being hypnotised, and descending into a trace-like state with satisfying abstract musical motifs, this is the record for you. If, additionally, you wish to escape the opulent sheen of modern pop music (popular and unpopular), listen to Obey. Then listen to it again. Give it another just for good measure.
By Sam Nicholas