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The good news for TesseracT fans is that the new album Sonder

 

The good news for TesseracT fans is that the new album Sonder builds on where the band left off and this is no backward step. Even more exciting is that Dan Tompkins stays in the role of lead vocals which is a bit of effort for a band that changes vocalists on a biennial cycle. Tompkins’ vocals are sublime and go a long way to making this another atmospheric outing from TesseracT. What is different from Altered State, and even Polaris, is we have new layers to the band, with far more emotion and depth that what we have seen before. Dare I say it, even flourishes amongst the tight melodies and heavy bass lines.

The album kicks off with Luminary then into King, which are two immensely weighty songs that are unrelenting, powerful tracks. These are giant tracks and you can imagine a set opening with these two, giving a double barrel dose. Orbital is a far more sedate affair that is all Tompkins and a barrage of layered synths, probably designed as a soother to recover us from the opening salvo. The track lifts at the end as we glide into the opening, ponderous riffs of Juno. There’s an oscillating bass line that effortlessly moves objects across my desk as we drift into a funky bass line with Tompkins getting an opportunity to stretch the vocal chords. This is a vastly talented vocalist with an impressive range. Juno is an uplifting track and delivers a TesseracT of many more colours than we have seen previously.

Longest track on the album is Beneath my Skin/Mirror Image. At eleven minutes it’s stand out track with more timing changes than a cheap airline. This is perhaps the track that will separate fans from the critic as it the track that harshly throws together the almost pop-like vocal performance with jangling, unforgiving guitars. You either get it or you don’t. To me it’s a band looking to move beyond the ambient and to fill the available space with as many ideas as possible. If there is criticism of the band, and it’s not new to this album, is that the openness can feel like filler.

Smile and The Arrow are two tracks that seem as one. Starting off as a groover, with lots of free space, and sounds passing overhead there is a lot going on without much really happening. However, the riff half way through is worth the investment.

At under forty minutes it may seem light for a progressive album but it has more going on than the early albums that seemed to focus on the listeners imagination to fill the spaces created by the atmosphere and ambience of a thicker electronic sound. This is a great album to tour and those that enjoyed Polaris will plug directly into Sonder.

Review – Craig Grant

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