Algol by Stupid CosmonautRelease date: March 3, 2017
Stupid Cosmonaut are back with their vinyl debut on Drone Rock Records and it’s like drinking liquid nadir; intoxicating in its spaced-out catharsis and ominous in the most fascinating manner.
From the moment I first heard the opening guitar line waltzing some bleak ballroom with its decrepit samples, I knew this album was gonna blow me away. ’Solitary Stasis’ is utterly enrapturing and all-consuming like some self-imposed paralysis, addiction or depression. Isolation and alienation are injected into the mix at all turns like webs on the corners and draping down from the ceiling. Each mangled robotic in the track fluttering like some fresh cadaver or a bulb flickering frantically ’til the light is gone. Oceans of noise like a soundtrack to thought as untameable war on the self or some vicious, unbridled, psychological violence.
Stupid Cosmonaut don’t just take you to the end of the galaxy, they throw you out into the stars with an oxygen tank and a fuck load of LSD. ‘The Demon Star Pilot’ is a perfect example of this almost brutalist hybrid of something spiritually in between 2001: A Space Odyssey and something like Ashes and Snow or Shoah. It’s equally magnificent and traumatising like some dive into despair that on one level destroys a part of yourself on and on another level mutates you into something else. I feel like this mutation is key to the album itself because overall it is a transmogrification of what Stupid Cosmonaut were into something further adrift in the abyss. I have to say the first time I heard the sophomore track on Algol, I felt like I was lost in darkness and distance, to some deep recess of space only to be spat out in some bizarre twist of fate when the drums kick in like some spiritual trip guide or a grounding in the fog. The percussion becomes like a bannister leading further away from the dark ambient drone into a spacey post-rock progression. The is a palpable feeling of drifting away into the distance, apathetic to what fate may await the cosmonaut in the darkness; embracing doom and glory as two faces of the same coin that only adds up to a worthless currency invented by humans to comprehend the things they experience as meaningful and special, rather than some colossal ecosystem in which we are as amoebas compared to giants.
‘Passing Between Dancing Giants’ reeks of The Warriors to me, although, musically it is vastly more expansive than that main theme. The opening beckons out this delightfully cosmic sense of mystery that in its elusiveness and dramatics becomes somewhat playfully and entertaining. Although, the increasing use of drums and melodic synth parts slowly unravels the track from sci-fi B movie madness to smeared make-up, gothic horror as Stupid Cosmonaut send us spiralling slowly into a bold new direction. The sound itself is something akin Ghost or The Cult of Dom Keller, it’s gothic and brooding and imposing whilst having a sense of being stuck of time and place like some ghost shedding temporal trappings and physical form as dead weight. The mysterious production and bleak tones imbue the track with a gaunt, emotional weight.
The album’s finale ‘Barus’ rolls around like some great, daunting eclipse with deserty guitar work soaked in a dark reverb serenading sublime, otherworldly choirs and interstellar pads like some slowly falling star descending from the end of galaxy through the lifeless recesses of space. A celestial body drifting like some lost cadaver journeying through infinity, slowly amassing heat and bursting into flames. The roar of distortion cloaking riffs in eruptions as they pass through the glacial ambient doom into a surge of molten tremelos and meteoric collisions brutalising the drums. The final charge introduces powerful eastern melodies overhead oozing entropy and chaos into the mix in a fit of violence, the result is utterly mesmerising. It’s awesome to see how the band have warped into something else since their last release.
It doesn’t often happen these days but Stupid Cosmonaut have made a great post-rock album with Algol, although it vastly exceeds the boundaries of the genre and glides through multiple other categorisations effortlessly, it is likely to be the best post-rock album of the year.