Exploded View achieve a warping and bending of the mind, while providing a consistency in mysticism with electronics on entrancing,post-apocalyptic sophomore LP Obey.
Imagine you’re trapped in a spooky, dead garden at midnight. There are spiders webs spun delicately into the framework of the decrepit bench, and wilting purple roses with petals scattered across the dirty, green-brown grass. The scene is post-apocalyptic, intoxicatingly atmospheric and entrancing.
This is the scene Exploded View have set with their sophomore full-length album Obey. ‘Lullaby’ helps to set the stage - reverbing, post-punk bass and scrambled guitars are the disappearance of the sun and the slow, eerie descend of the moon. The bass creaks and cracks like an aged wooden fence, opening up to expose the depressing scene. As you walk through the garden, ‘Open Road’ feels manipulatively upbeat with its slow, Western-style atmospherics and gargling electronic samples. Anika Henderson’s icy delivery floats beautifully among the bleeping waves and pulsars.
One of three pre-released singles, ‘Dark Stains’ pulls us out of an encapsulating psychedelic experience just for a brief, fleeting moment. Henderson’s multi-textured tone feels vibrant, popping in plumes of bright neons and golds amongst the murky soundscape, and this is only further supported by the repetitive, banging drums. The track soon falls back into a spiral of haze, confusion, vibrancy and desperation, with the drums softening ever so slightly. Henderson tried to pull us out of the unintelligible, away from the alien, knocking on the door to sanity, but ultimately heard no answer.
‘Obey’ is befitting as an album title; an intoxicatingly spooky track that plants us straight back into the garden of Evil. Blips and bloops and swelling synthesisers overpower the struggling vocals. We’re chucked headfirst into a multifaceted soundscape that makes you feel like you’re drowning, being swallowed whole by a pool of dead, rotten pond water, weeds pulling you further into the deep abyss.
Certainly apocalyptic in its abundance of post-punk, goth and progressive rock elements, Obey also feels strangely soothing. Despite feverish interludes of glam-rock guitars and thrashing electronics, tracks like ‘Sleepers’ and ‘Letting Go Of Childhood Dreams’ stand out among the rest as brief periods of respite. Instead of feeling claustrophobic in the inescapable garden, ‘Sleepers’ shoots you out into the milky way to fall freely through dead space. Whining synthesisers, pulsing phasers and Henderson’s milky tones are suffused with heavy reverb to create such an effect. ‘Letting Go Of Childhood Dreams’ flows like an acid-infused children’s lullaby, with Henderson’s vocals mismatching the metronomical ticking beat.
Another pre-released single ‘Raven Raven’ is hypnotic in its repetition, Henderson calls out “raven raven” atop a ‘Supermassive Black Hole’-style drum rhythm and warbling, goth rock guitars. It again goes to show while Exploded View dabble defiantly in the psychedelic, their roots remain in a more guitar-driven sound.
Exploded View promised their listeners “apocalyptic yet soothing songs” and on that, they have certainly delivered. In a mind-melting blend of psychedelia, electronica, post-punk and progressive rock, Obey achieves in warping and bending the mind. In its more frantic moments, it is entrapping you in a spooky, horror movie style garden with mystic flora, fauna and indescribable creatures. Meanwhile, its ebbing and flowing electronics provide consistency in its mysticism.