Review Summary: A short, wet affair.
‘In the Fishtank’ is a project by independent music distributor Konkurrent. The fourteenth installment of this project features an interesting blend of ambient metalgaze. This shared EP between Isis and Aereogramme spans just under 25 minutes and takes you on a mellow journey through some interesting aquatic soundscapes.
The EP begins in true Isis fashion with a prominent bass line and a beat that instantly tells us Aaron Harris is behind the drumkit. The rhythm section is accompanied by some three-note sequences on the guitars very typical of a post rock song. A third of the way through ‘Low-tide’ the drumming intensifies and the bass starts to pulse. We are then treated to the first taste of some heavenly vocals. Craig B softly delivers lyrics that can be interpreted as finally overcoming a dark period in ones life “Can’t count the cost… I played my part, now they’re letting me go home” The tension finally cracks and Craig’s voice angelically soars through the now expanded sound in a higher register. The song basically repeats its structure at this point, followed by some anticlimaxes where the bands experiment with some percussive samples and interesting guitar tones and effects.
‘Delial’ kicks off with a drum fill which leads into a heavily distorted scene. The guitars plod along to an 11/4 groove. The use of this peculiar timing helps create a sense of movement in the music, which works neatly as this shorter, heavier track moves the listener away from the aquatic, peaceful comfort zone created in the one prior. Aaron Turner takes the reigns as vocalist here, his light howling aids an eerie vibe to the sludgy backdrop and eventually crescendos with the guitars. A very steady wall of sound emerges consisting of single bass notes and a whole lot of guitar swell. Whispered layers of vocals effortlessly pierce through this wall and spurt out sentence after sentence of incoherence. The original groove returns with some violent, airy screams that finish this rather abrasive track.
In an act of decompression we are dropped from the well-paced vessel that was Delial, into the stable, fluent ambiance of 'Stolen'. The feedback of guitars, a steady beat with an echoing snare and a wandering bass line open this track with a sense of unease and searching. The song finds some harmony when Craig brings in vocals. This time around his voice brings a feeling of weariness, with notes being stretched thin and long, with a hefty dose of reverb. All the instruments and vocals fade out leaving a soft but growing sound of electronic noises. Keys play a pivotal role here, constantly shifting between minor and major in this delicate marine atmosphere. A dampened bass drum, tambourine and a clap comprise a beat that resembles a heartbeat and gently nurse the song back to life. Eighth notes of a hi-hat being floored engage and intensify the beat while a soft melody rings in the background. From a distance Aaron Turner can be heard wailing away for a short period of time. In the last two minutes the music takes an uncomfortable turn. Unsuspecting whistles and screeches ripple through the watery scene as the last of the melody and rhythm fades.
In the Fishtank 14 is a short affair, but one that leaves a lasting impression. Within its three songs are moments of undeniable beauty, unchained aggression, and unsettling ambiance. Both bands seamlessly combine their talents and have executed their ideas brilliantly in one very cool EP.