BY JONATHAN LEVITT
You’d be forgiven if you thought the opening of this record was in fact the new Prodigy joint, that is until the vocals kick in. The opening salvo “HOTFO” is a bold blast of “invaders must die” like aggression battling for the hearts and minds of listeners from the first distorted digital beat.
This record veers to some uncomfortable places, it has a creepiness about it that wouldn’t be out of place in a Jessie Pinkman meth freak out in an episode of Breaking Bad. There are numerous musical references throughout this record and even in the space of a song, that instead of being just a cut and paste job, work well to forge a specific musical identity for the record. This is something a lot of artists fail to do.
“My Friend Simjen” is one hell of an odd track that employs some really disparate synth sounds to create a hallucinogenic uneasiness. The track with its frenetic pacing and layers of voices is a frightening excursion into paranoia that ends in a shrill yell. I was genuinely creeped out by this song. I know that given the right substances I’ll awake like Neo in Matrix to the real world that the band is trying to show us.
“Loops” is a really cool retro number that once again employs the unnerving slightly off kilter sound much like when you touch the pitch shifter on your record player. It then bounces into an 80’s dance song, and then shifts once again into these weird punctuated moments of singing, that then stab back into a groovy dance number.
I took to this album when I noticed its cover art. I mean how often in this day of digital music do we look at the art? With what looks like death looming the out of body experience is germane to what the band is trying to accomplish here. It could be a drug-addled freak out where you stare out at the abyss, and just let yourself jettison all inhibition and just jump. Or maybe you take one step back from the edge and make your way back to life through all of the ensuing chaos. Certainly this album serves up plenty of moments where things could split either way.
Jumping back into the record “Video Hostage” is a very unsettling number that employs rumbling down the train tracks like sound in the background, along with spliced angelic vocals jammed in the mix. When the rat-a-tat-tat of the drums enters there’s a major upping of the emotional ante. When we get to the end of the song you know you’ve witnessed something unnerving and possibly unmentionable.
A record much like a film should provoke as much as it entertains. Doldrums have fashioned a record that people will look at in the future as a reference to the world we were living in back in 2014 when it was recorded. It’s a dreary place that feels devoid of much hope and where an ever-increasing number of people are struggling to feel apart of anything. Doldrums have given voice to the psychology of the outsider, fashioning a work of art whose queasy, warped nature is just too hard to shake.