2006 Gilead Media
1. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? MP3
3. Pay For The Printer
4. Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said
5. The Man In The High Castle
6. Four Years, False Memories
Every so often, I hear a release that makes me stop and take notice of how far some artists are willing to stretch the limits of metal music. A Scanner Darkly (named for the Philip K. Dick story that's now a major motion picture) have set out to create a mind-bending experience full of old school grind and new school doom, all brought together in the name of science fiction. It's not that it's never been attempted before, it's just never seemed this logical. This six track EP features twenty minutes of the most intriguing heavy music I've heard in a while. Fans of forward-thinking groups like Old Man Gloom or Burst should be able to pick up on what these guys are putting down.
Each of the disc's first five tracks are named for other Philip K. Dick stories and novels, beginning with perhaps his best known "Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep" the story that served as the basis of the sci-fi classic Blade Runner. I can't say that the song itself or the lyrics necessarily reflect much about the story except perhaps the robotic voice that pops up halfway through and the underlying sense of despair throughout. This slightly mathy bit of sludge may only last a minute and a half, but it sets up the album perfectly. "VALIS" follows up and takes the disc in a slightly different direction, slowing down to a doomy slither overlaid with synthesizers and densely layered vocal effects. The song kicks into high gear halfway through but at its core it is a lumbering beast of a song.
"Pay For The Printer" is the most chaotic track on this EP, stumbling from full-on tech to stoner metal and back. One of the most interesting parts of the disc comes during the "stoner" portion when super-fast electronic blastbeats cut through the vocals in a mindblowing fashion. It's honestly just one of those little things that popped out from an already impressive recording. "Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said" returns to the riff-based doom sound for it's first segment before suddenly coming alive and rocking the fuck out, only to subside into a droning wall of feedback until a thrashy doom finale. It might seem like these songs have a bit too much going on in them, but A Scanner Darkly's ambition is matched only by their ability to realize their vision.
The disc closes out with the all-too brief "Man In The High Castle" and the ten minute drone track "Four Years, False Memories." It's an accomplished bit of ambience that calls to mind Earth and some lighter Sunn0))) fare. It's a bit of a shame that so much of the disc's twenty-three minutes is taken up by this one cut, but there's no shortage of quality to be found. Travis Gasper sounds as maniacal as Today Is The Day's Steve Austin, Adam Tucker's guitars are impeccable and the fact that this record was self-produced is one of the most amazing things about it. This record is as well recorded as just about anything Hydra Head every released and just as innovative.
Bottom Line: Fans of creativity, innovation and science fiction should seek out this release immediately. It's been out for several months now and I'm shocked it hasn't built a much bigger buzz. In the hands of the right marketing team, this band could (and hopefully will) be huge. I love this record.