Review: Architeuthis Rex – Stilbon Is Dead

a0831704583_16Architeuthis Rex are climbing into the sky. They stack electronics upon layers of distorted drone, whistling feedback, dusty keyboards, bowed cymbals, ethereal voices…anything that can be used to extend the tower of sound, which sways precariously as it clasps at the open air. Conceptually, the band deal with the mercurial intersection between science and mythology: the point at which solid, known truths start to melt into the liberated liquid of fantastical hypothesis, spilling over the edges in search of answers to the great unknowns. Conceptually, Stilbon Is Dead is partly based on the ancient Greek understanding of Mercury as two planets: one in the morning called “Stilbon”, one in the evening called “Hermaon”. As synths and fizzing distortion stretch upward, I hear a band eternally reaching for a greater understanding, penetrating clouds of knowledge and mythological theory with their fingertips.

It’s a heavy record. The drums predominantly stick to a solid 4/4 – occasionally stumbling into rickety fills or toppling improvisation – while guitars declare themselves in long, buzzing drones, lain upon the lower frequencies like beds of philosophical axiom. As the band move upward through the frequencies, the layers start to become more erratic, more vibrant, more surreal – synths illuminate the skies like flares on “Copper Light”, voices spout wordlessly over the noise on “Almagest”, while the closing moments of the title track find themselves ravaged by swirling, siren-style electronics, foretelling the emergence of epiphanic existential crisis: the ultimate knowledge that nothing is truly known, and that all is speculation, and that even the heaviest, more resiliently rooted music is prone to devastating collapse. It’s a fate that haunts the record throughout, thanks to a production that assembles Stilbon Is Dead into a rickety pillar of noise in the centre of the stereo frame, destined to topple under its own weight and ambition. A tale of insatiable curiosity and inevitable revelation.