Voronoi – The Last Three Seconds Review

I find it entertaining to wonder what it must feel like to be a pinball in a pinball machine. After twenty-five cent pieces are eagerly loaded into the machine by a giddy human, neon lights shine brightly and your reflective metal self is loaded onto a small platform where you must patiently wait. The human pulls back the spring-powered plunger as far back as it goes before releasing. The other end of the plunger makes contact with you, and you’re off! You careen along metal tracks, zip through blinking tunnels, and fall into a kickout hole before exploding back out. You collide with bumpers here and there and are viciously attacked by flippers at the bottom of the pinball table. In the life of a pinball, it is impossible to settle in and get comfortable until the very end of the game when the final score blinks in bright red across the pinball machine’s display. This description of what I envision it must be like to be a pinball is not unlike my experience listening to Voronoi’s The Last Three Seconds. It’s a spasmodic experience, to say the least.

Voronoi is a progressive jazz metal trio hailing from Leeds, UK. The fact that keyboardist Aleks Podraza worked with the emotionally beautiful and genre-defying The Cinematic Orchestra immediately caught my eye. The band blends together the sophistication of classical music and modern jazz fusion with the heavy downtempo riffs of prog-metal. Imagine cutting edge jazz pianist Tigran Hamasyan and math-metal experts Meshuggah teaming up to provide the background music for a dinner party. On The Last Three Seconds, Voronoi stick with an interstellar theme and journey into cosmic realms of progressive metal and experimental jazz.

What initially stood out to me on Voronoi’s latest album was the extremely diverse and captivating texture of sounds on the album. On “Gamma Signals,” which is about “pulsars and how when Jocelyn Bell-Burnell first discovered them, the media thought they were aliens trying to contact us,” according to Podraza, synths of both the beepy boopy kind intertwine with a dubby bass almost reminiscent of Survive’s work on the Stranger Things musical score. Second to stand out to me was the wide array of intensely complicated rhythms. Opening track “Interstellar Something” wastes no time with introducing multiple complex rhythmic passages. But the merging of contemporary jazz and heavy metal influences ultimately leads to a very challenging listen. The Last Three Seconds pushes the boundaries of both metal and jazz at the same time, but the jury is still out regarding whether this marriage results in a pleasant experience for the listener. “The Nauseator” lives up to its name, alternating between mind-numbing starting and stopping and elusive and short-lived, gentle piano sections for ten and a half long and tedious minutes.

I felt like I was being buffeted around when I least expected it for the entire duration of The Last Three Seconds. So unpredictable was the ride that I never fully settled in to enjoy it. I’m no stranger to avant-garde forms of jazz. Thanks to my dad, I listened to a fair amount of experimental jazz and, to this day, Paul Zorn‘s The Dreamers is one of my favorite albums. Even though my palette has been exposed to a variety of flavors of jazz, I’m used to albums in these genres being more therapeutic than they are manic and abrasive like this Voronoi album.

It’s ironic that it wasn’t until the rocker of a final track “Home Could Be Lightyears Away” that I felt like The Last Three Seconds was actually going somewhere. This track is easily my favorite on the album and demonstrates perfectly Voronoi’s interplay between the light and airy and ultra aggressive. I appreciate the inventiveness of The Last Three Seconds, but overall, Voronoi’s vibe doesn’t quite resonate with me yet. It felt to me as if the trio’s goal with this album was to test the patience of their listeners. It’s as if they advertised, “Come on, folks! Step right in! Are you ready to be nauseated?” Nevertheless, Voronoi’s execution is flawless. What they did, they did extraordinarily well. If you’re up to the challenge, I encourage you to give The Last Three Seconds a whirl.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 160 kbps mp3
Label: Small Pond Recordings
Websites: facebook.com/Voronoitheband | voronoi.bandcamp.com
Releases Worldwide: May 7th, 2021

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