Review: Solar Maximum: Soundtrack Event I: Uranian Fire

a2120177129_10Psychedelia can take the form of an explosion or an implosion. In this case, it’s the latter. Instead of saturating every musical surface with vibrant, fluid plumes of happening, Solar Maximum press into the transcendence of simple, solitary movements. Uranian Fire is built from two bass guitars, embellished with nothing except distortion and wah pedals, occasionally driven by the most functional thumps of drum machine. Through repetition, the duo self-scrutinise until meaning drains away. Riffs roll back around because they always have. Wah pedals sweep through the frequencies, rotating bass tones in front of my face, allowing me to observe the clunk and crinkled intricacy of each fuzzy note. I’m brought to a point where I know the sound too well to question it. For the first 10 seconds of each of these pieces, Solar Maximum are playing a tectonically slow form of rock ‘n’ roll. After five minutes, they’re simply bodies humming in harmonic alignment, liberated from the burden of purpose, stripped from the clutter of semantics.

The duo take turns to provide rhythmic anchorage for the improvisatory flights of the other. On “A Large White Bird Bearing A Message”, one of the basses alternates between bleating into the high frequencies and slumping into tuneless, distorted mess, like a swimmer taking clean breaths between passages of oceanic submergence. On “Filled With Fresh”, great yawns of wah pedal complain at the persistent prod of a one-note riff from the left side of the frame. These exercises are deliberately aimless. Uranian Fire takes no ascensions to climax and no deviations into new territory. Nothing develops, nothing grows. Instead, the album waits for me to accept the sensation of futility, depriving me of progression until I come to embrace the little that I have. My only choice is to go deeper.

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