TesseracT - Sonder (Review)

Martin_Canine
TESSERACT
Sonder
★★★★1/2

Sometimes, sound can create more amazing pictures than pencil and paint ever could. Sometimes, sound can convey more emotions than ten thousands words could describe. And sometimes, sound can give us vibes that work so viscerally they can’t even be captured with another sense at all. It’s not just the way the guitar is played, but how the feedback is used, how thick the distortion is and how much it blends into the thunderous drums and intensity of the vocal delivery. Albums like Sonder speak a lot through their sound design, even more than through their words. The record is constructed in a way that it forms a symphony with different movements, and could as well work as the soundtrack for a great movie epic, but without needing pictures to go along with it.

Take for example the 11 minute epic Beneath My Skin / Mirror Image. Just the first 80 seconds get you on the edge of the seat with all their little details. The tones of the soft piano, heavy on echo, in combination with an insecure, scarred voice, sound fragile and easy to break. But there are also these artificial noises that start off quietly, get louder and louder and then - suddenly vanish again, like meteors rushing by. It feels like a moment of still distant, but approaching danger within silence in deep wide space. But then… after the intro is over, the electric guitar and drums start with a menacing, colossal wall of sound, and now things get serious. But how!

With shifting moods, from delicate situations to heavy action to absolute fascination: in one song, TesseracT can send us on a journey that other artists need a double disc album for, without much need for lengthy explanation. If the music paints the backdrop and scenario for the story, the Oscar-worthy protagonist is the voice of the band’s lead singer Daniel Tompkins. With a desperation that would make every emo singer proud he screams out in pain, whimpers in despair and bleeds his heart out vocally. Really, this man could sing lyrics out of a phone book and you’d buy how incredibly hard his emotions feel like.

But however, what is all that without a proper screenplay? It’s a question that’s not necessary to be asked on Sonder, at least not after hearing these lines from Luminary: “This waking life is not what it seems to be / No time to talk, no air to breathe / Reminisce the scent of a single flower / What butchers cleave, the wolves devour”. It’s not just full of angst and sorrow, it’s also very beautifully written, with wordings that are truly poetic. Sometimes the things that are said are damn ugly, but it’s the way they are committed to the paper that turns them into something admirably wonderful. Especially when combined to the sheer overwhelming musical soundscapes. Despite the galactic atmosphere, the huge, dark tones of the compositions don’t simply stand for a trip through outer space, it’s more of a trip deep into the innermost thoughts of a man struggling with himself, an internal fight which is captured with larger than life music.

Sonder is best experienced in its entirety. The individual songs will play like scenes of one big plot, like the different stations of one ride. And it’s at perfect pace and length to be one homogenous, yet constantly shifting work of art that fully plays out what the sound is capable of without straying too far from its initial premise.

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