Saint Petersburg - one of the more progressive regions of the great Russian expanse – has steadily garnered a reputation for hosting some truly innovative and groundbreaking musical artists over the past decade or so. Maybe it’s the city’s more social progressive sensibilities or its rich cultural history, but nevertheless, Russia’s second largest city is now a hub for technical aural modernism. Embodying such a fact is the city’s latest prime electronic orientated post-rock export Mythographer, the third album from genre dynamos Antethic.
Released May 29th via Holy Roar, Mythographer is the group’s first international release, their initial statement to many encountering them for the very first time. To be put simply, as far as first impressions go, Mythographer is simply unforgettable. Opening with ‘I Glow’, the track feels like a distant call from the void above, a message that stops one firmly in their tracks with its celestial wonderment. Against the sparse sonic backdrop of space, colossal monoliths of rumbling bass call out in a manner that’s not unlike something from Third Encounters of the Close Kind or even War of the Worlds. It’s alien, but totally engulfs the imagination.
With focus, such soul-shaking electronic bellows form into a synthetic musical language, one that’s cinematically beautiful despite its relative musical simplicity. It’s a display of synth led instrumentation that halts one’s heart with every progression due to it's alien lurch. Really, it's the perfect soundtrack to tripods towering over the baroque skyline of St Petersburg, an expedition that isn't marred with holistic menace, but neither with placid greetings.
Following this initial acquaintance, Mythographer choses not to communicate via genres, but with textures. Whilst elements of post-rock, electronica, noise, drum & bass and even subtle trip-hop elements akin to Massive Attack appear throughout the course of this record, to pinpoint the overall genre of the record through hyperbolic terminology is nigh on possible. Proceeding track ‘Frontier’ see’s the group summon a phenomenally dense wall of noise that factually dissolves into mediative closed-eyed beats that levitate around a swarm of calculated breakbeat percussion whilst ‘Haoma’ aquatically chokes with the listener with it’s bathypelagic pressure. Yet, throughout all of these encounters, it’s impossible not to tear oneself away from the intricately rich textures that Antethic offers with this release.
Many bands that chase post-rock pursuits through electronica orientated means often do so with a constant barrage of noise, soiling musical textures with instrumental overexposure. The reason why Mythographer is so irresistible in nature is how Antethic composes their material. There’s no contrasting polyrhythms to disorientate and distract, no layers that battle for supremacy and no melodrama within the emotion that overpowers the music itself. Every element – from every delicate beat to stretching layers of all coating noise - has it’s own place and is executed without distracting the listener from the vivid and daring greater picture at hand. It’s almost minimalistic, but in an abnormal way that’s totally immersive and intoxicatingly cinematic.
There’s emotion within this release, but it’s felt as opposed to understood. Whereas ‘To Move A Mountain’ sounds like Torche trying to perform with synthesisers, there’s sombre sobriety within the canyons of digitalising reverb. In relation, ‘Absurd Hero’ carries a hue of amicable warmth through its atomically popping synths and ‘Tyro’, whilst totally surreal in a celestial manner, almost sounds faintly romantic. However, it’s all open to interpretation – everyone is likely to draw their own emotional parallels from this spectral tapestry of silicon based noise. This is a record that awards patience and discipline, gifting listeners with new insights with repeated listens. It certainly isn’t a record that can be encountered once then disposed and those wishing for something with rabid chemical danceablity would be left disappointed.
In all, whilst the notion of Holy Roar releasing an electronic record may be odd initially, it’s totally understandable why the label are so keen to offer this esoteric album with pride. Mythographer is an utter achievement in exercises of texture, composure and musical intellectualism whilst still showing that classic Holy Roar finesse that their label-mates so dearly harbour. Regardless of you’re opinion on synth-led movements, if you value your music physiological and authentically cinematic, Mythographer can’t be recommended enough.