Review Summary: Finding refuge in music.
Carbon Based Lifeforms' music has always possessed cinematic aspects whether coming from a single tune or an entire album. Their expansive, beat driven tracks that usually segue from one to another, create gorgeous, hour-long journeys that differ with each release. After performing live at the Swedish Museum Of Natural History's planetarium back in 2009, accompanied by custom projected visuals, it was only a matter of time until the duo would take on a bigger project, for example, a movie soundtrack.
Joining forces with director Andrew Robertson for Refuge
, released last spring, CBL have stepped out of their usual comfort zone to craft a slightly different effort that suits the movie's tensed atmosphere and plot (a family seeking an elusive mansion as refuge while struggling to survive in the wake of a catastrophic event). As a result, each of the tracks featured here evokes mixed feelings, yet overall, they take shape mostly in ambient-meets-post rock way, more reminiscent of Hammock's latest output. Subtly divided in 2 parts, it all starts with the lovely 'RCA(+)', which gradually grows from a single, airy soundscape to a beautiful, rich tune. Also, 'Birdie' and 'Leaves' are both soothing cuts, with their loose beats and lush synths. Still, they have nostalgic undertones that are punctuated by sparse, icy piano leads.
Then, a darker shade is first portrayed through 'RCA(-)', the sinister counterpart to the album opener, and subsequently, it further develops on the noisy 'Lost' or the stark closer, 'Marauders', a tune that echoes the band's droning affair, Twentythree
. The biggest surprise, however, is the techno-influenced, 'Escape', taking Carbon Based Lifeforms at their closest to club music so far. They have previously flirted with it, but always in a faint, chill-out way. Nevertheless, the song is highly enjoyable amid all the downtempo cuts, plus, it opens a new musical path for them to possibly follow on future releases.
Even though it is a bit short and less entertaining than some of the more fleshed out predecessors (mainly Interloper
or World Of Sleepers
can be seen as one of the most accessible and dynamic CBL records yet. Clocking in at only 42 minutes, the 7 tracks gently slide one through another, each with its own mood. Still, the result is a lot more entertaining than the monotone VLA
or the rather tepid, aforementioned Twentythree
and one can only get excited for further experiments from the band.