In Review: Reptaliens - Wrestling

On their new EP, the Portland husband and wife duo-turned-band take their fascination with sci-fi, conspiracy theories, cults, and transhumanism to existential levels - it’s mechanic and weird, but that’s absolutely the point.
Posted: 18 November 2020 Words: Isaac Bartels

Duo-turned-band Reptaliens are fascinated with fringe. Listening to their self-professed love of sci-fi, conspiracy theories and cults, one might imagine an EP that’s Blade Runner writ large, full of gigantic sweeping synths and alien concepts. 

Not so. Wrestling, the latest EP from the husband-and-wife duo, deals with these concepts on a human scale. Using a Roland bass synth as a jumping-off point, the bouncing pulse of the instrument seems to shape and weave the rest of the EP around it. Wrestling strikes a darker tone than their previous work, choosing to incorporate sonar blips and window-wiper synths into the musical landscape. It’s mechanic and weird, but that’s absolutely the point. 

Opener ‘Taking’ explores “perception and existence” as explained by the band. Vocalist Bambi Browning strings one-word phrases together like an extraterrestrial learning the mundane intricacies of human nature: “Taking and keeping / I’m making, completing / eating, digesting / thriving, living.” Her distant, ethereal vocal delivery feels out of this world. The brief interlude of ‘Listening’ turns darker, chopping up the vocals and sending them to the stuttering fringes of the mix. Transhumanism is on full display here, with the lyrics turning birdwatching into a transcendent experience.

Steadily, the bass synth leads on in ‘Just a Creature.’ Here, the music evokes fellow Portland group STRFKR. Coincidentally, or perhaps not, the bass that drives the EP was loaned from the same source. Spiralling synths punctuate the brief musings of Browning, as she questions the very fabric of her sanity over the course of the song: “I’m just a creature in the night / I’m just trying to get it right / Trying hard not to lose my brain / I’m trying my best not to go insane.” 

Closing out the EP with ‘Do You Know?’, the band sticks the landing. Featuring an instrumental that perpetually expands and contracts upon itself, the gentle pulse of the bass draws everything back into focus. As the EP concludes, the elements of the song converge on each other and the synth lines dance in and around each other. It’s impressively conjured and the highlight of the project.

Wrestling is an understated effort from the perpetually underrated Reptaliens. It’s filled with lyrics of fading lucidity and a somber resignation to the groove. At 12 minutes, it’s a brisk affair from a band that never pads out a project. Needless to say, it’s worth every minute.

To hear more from Reptaliens, click here.

More from buzz