65daysofstatic can do no wrong. From being invited to score the first radio adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Slaughterhouse-Five (Vonnegut fangirl here!) to soundtracking the procedurally generated open world planetary exploration game No Man’s Sky, the experimental four-piece band from Sheffield, England have again and again graciously cherry-picked unique opportunities that are presented to them upon which to work their magic. 65daysofstatic meticulously piece together complex and emotional structures of sound and continually push the boundaries of what’s possible for music to convey. replicr, 2019, 65daysofstatic‘s eighth studio album, is no exception. Drummer Rob Jones explains, “History is moving but it’s got nowhere to go. It’s piling up all around us. That’s what this record is about. […] Even the idea that ‘pop will eat itself’ is eating itself.” The fact that 65daysofstatic deliberately chose to include the year “2019” in their album title pins the record down as “a lighthouse in an exponential typhoon of blind progress.” 2019 is in the midst of an era fraught with an overabundance of bogus replicas, information overload, and excessive consumption. replicr, 2019 attempts to shed light on this disappointing state of the world in an attempt to branch out and transcend it.
On the surface, 65daysofstatic‘s new album is an ambient electronic record à la Boards of Canada‘s Tomorrow’s Harvest or Brian Eno‘s Small Craft on a Milk Sea. But what 65daysofstatic are after on their new release does not merely concern fans of a single genre nor an entire group of genres. The ideas and emotions they seek to serve up via replicr, 2019 are relevant to creators and consumers of art forms of all shapes and sizes. Yes, this includes those who frequent this blog and are willing to acknowledge the worrying current state of the world and experience what 65daysofstatic have fabricated in response to it. Given the subject matter, it makes sense then that the vibe replicr, 2019 emits is agitated and visceral—even stomach-knot-inducing. Each of the 14 tracks builds upon the growing tension of the last, reminding me of Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow‘s anxious and brooding soundtrack for the 2014 science fiction film Ex Machina.
During their previous work on the score for No Man’s Sky, 65daysofstatic reveled in picking apart and destroying sounds to arrive at new and alien ones. On replicr, 2019, however, they instead try their hand at building stripped down sonic textures from the wreckage and debris left over from their earlier work. The result is an album that refuses to sit still and miraculously evokes the exact feelings of dread they set out to conjure. Album opener “pretext” starts off by summoning a dream-like state with a spectral synth before the furiously rhythmic “stillstellung,” evocative of Eno‘s “Horse,” steamrolls you down. There are endless exotic treats for your ears to discover throughout the rest of replicr, 2019. “05|| | 1|” is wonderfully warbly, “grv-_s” meanders in an amorphous fashion, and I could not be more fond of the way the tender sound of wind chimes contrasts with glitchy synths on “five waves.” Final track “trackerplatz,” my personal favorite on the album, starts off pretty with delicate bells and clean guitars like a This Will Destroy You or The Album Leaf track. “trackerplatz” is not only a pretty track, though. Melancholic and somehow hopeful at the same time, layers of noise and static gradually build until all the tension of the album is released in one last ringing note.
replicr, 2019‘s sole shortcoming worth mentioning is that the album has a tricky time finding a groove. Half the tracks barely make it over three minutes, resulting in an album that does a fine job of jerking the listener back and forth. Maybe this was 65daysofstatic‘s intention, but I can’t help but wish the transitions were smoother to allow for a less erratic listen.
Since their foundation in 2001, 65daysofstatic defy classification, situating themselves on the fringes of a multitude of overlapping genres, just out of reach of any who attempt to claim them as one of their own. Words cannot do replicr, 2019 justice. Otherworldly and intricately textured, it is an album you must experience in full in a quiet place unperturbed by the usual constant streams of information. I am unabashedly a 65kid and will be getting mighty comfortable with replicr, 2019. I encourage you to do likewise.