Review Summary: “I can hear them laughing; I can hear them yelling."
"…won’t you come with me?”
Hailing from PA--not Alaska--the progressive/experimental/post-hardcore quintet that constitutes I Am Alaska
share their newest design. There’s a sense of cold, off-the-grid loneliness associated with ‘Alaska’; just an instinctive image of frozen, foggy tundra. IAA caged this mental image, locked it up in a mason jar, and stored it in a dark cupboard.
To Elude the Architect
, IAA’s second (also more dense and ripened) EP delivers potent punches one measure only to caress the measure after. They managed to take the blistering passion from A Day In a Life
and harness and manipulate that vitality without dulling it a note. They poked little air holes in that mason jar to allow solemnity to waft out throughout the EP, and occasionally they pop the lid to release a wailing windstorm.
To Elude the Architect
bellows out to those who listen--howling “ESCAPE!” …to elude your surroundings. …to elude anything that attempts to predestine you. Being born into a town isn’t a definitive identifier, so IAA document the struggle in leaving people/things behind that have woven and wriggled into your life. How do you leave that which you were inevitably attached to? IAA requests you join in with the escape.
Should they be considered the band-baby of a Dredg, At The Drive In, and Circa Survive ménage-a-trois? No, and they don’t attempt to. But it’s impossible to ignore layers and inspirations relative to these bands, and fortunately this collision isn’t forced or messy. IAA is following in the current wave of experimentalism; this sub-genre inherently creates that which is new, and this EP obliges. Sometimes the guitar is pounding in unison with warbly, fervent, and violent vocals. Then the ensemble shifts to soft, sculpted, soothing melodies with atmospheric, snaking guitar lines. These transitions from frantic to soothing are palpable and melodramatic, and this contrast is a strongpoint of the EP, which is incredibly layered, so set aside some ear-time to decipher everything.
The overall effort shares the same concept. “Won’t you come with me” is repeated in three of the songs. An empowering call for others to join in with not merely accepting change, but provoking the changes in your life…eluding the maze-like floor plans that the architect pens out.
begins eerily, with dark-doomful Salvador Dali-like lyrics. The throbbing guitar progression clashes in, and the lyrics repeat “chasing me, surrounding me,” establishing the situation--trapped. With some lines, you can visualize the words being squeezed out through gritted teeth. Where the Wild Things Are
begs the question, "should I sail away, or should I stay?" and fades out with an unanswered, desolate guitar riff. The EP continues to build in tension with reposes to counterbalance the chaos. Lobo
(a gray/timber wolf as in the album artwork) unfolds beautifully. The carefully crafted rhythms pound and progress, while the guitar aura sounds more agitated all the time. This piece embodies the theme. It goes from “I can hear them right behind” and “all that I know is suffocating in this town” then returns to a blistering “I CAN HEAR THEM.” It is illustrating the immediate need to abandon this place. This is the point of change. IAA wails “I can hear them laughing; I can hear them yelling,” and enough! They need more than new scenery; they need a lungful of new life. This desperation to escape leads into Train Car
's plea, “won’t you come with me?”
IAA's final statement of Them
is grim-- “but there’s no escaping them,” --and an indication of that perpetual, nagging feeling of being unsettled. Perhaps the architect abides already (and always will) at the destination.
But the theme continues to resonate:
Give Lobo a listen at least.