EUS, Postdrome & Saåad – Different Streams (Soft Records/Grains of Sand, 2015)


It’s both surprising and not to see that Eus, Postdrome and Saåad have returned for another collaborative record. Oftentimes it seems that projects involving multiple artists like this don’t pursue further attempts at creating music together, but for many I think that’s down to the fact that their matchups are nowhere near as perfect as these three. With all three of them creating a similar brand of emotive Dark Ambient it can be difficult in listening to tracks from Different Streams, and indeed their debut record Sustained Layers, and working out the artistic influences and biases inherent within them. Here, each artist’s contribution has become incrementally smeared out across every tracks iterative creation process until it sounds so coherent that you’d think this supergroup was just one artist, the cohesive whole a surprisingly refined entity.

When opener “Dervish Dealer” comes round it’s pretty clear that we’re in for something of a more empowered ride than we saw in their debut, opening out to huge crooning guitar lines and thick, enveloping expanses of drone that slowly act to submerge the various textural multitudes within the piece, the murky backfield also falling into its abyssal qualities. It’s a heavy and tortured affair, very laboured in its motions that makes it feel like it’s really been forced out and deeply cathartic, like many of these productions are. It slinks out of existence as its crescendos burn out, only to be replaced by the harsh and unforgiving “The Bitter Truth”, advancing forward on damaged guitar chords before the menacing and calamitous drone fugue descends upon it, flattening out into a bleak array of haunting guitar drones and hovering synth notes that attempt to fight the harsh reality that they face, before effortlessly slipping into more familiar territory in the dark cruise of “Wait”.

Comprised of little more than radio station fragments suspended in a thin electronic veil and coupled with haunting drone pulses it advances slowly and darkly, its patience filled with menacing desire and dangerous anticipation. As the core of the piece falls away in its final moments we’re left with the brief calm before the storm, the submerged electronica that remains gathering itself for its final push in the pivotal “The Only Path”. It’s a slow and sustained effort, one that remains cool and collected as it drives continuously forwards on its bed of propulsive guitar drone, never deviating from its course despite the distractions arising from the swooping and circling miscellaneous electronica that tracks its progress, luring it away from its true course with doubt and fear. Once more it slinks away into cool oblivion; serenaded by the gentle tinkling of a distant piano the lush textural complexity slides away until little else remains, its job complete and its end in sight.

The final two tracks break the little journey we had going through the mid-album somewhat; “Snowfall” brings back some sense of eclecticism as it smears synth and guitar into a grey wall of white cloud, its foreground filled with glitched and fragmented electronic flurries as the wind whips these little flakes in the grim fluorescent light of some urban backwater, introducing some miserable sense of transformation into this morose nowhere. Gradually nature covers the concrete facades and chromed cars to create a weirdly beautiful image, the whole piece a deliciously windowsill gazing affair as we stare at this impermanent phenomenon upsetting our human constructions. Lastly, closer “Section 16” arrives to usher us out, feeling distinctly distant and ethereal in its presentation. Ghostly vocals float through the mix like we’re in an early Saåad album as we gaze out on the urban darkness through the fading light of remnant drones and chirruping insects, a sad resignation impregnating the entire fabric of the track, unable to break free of the bleak trappings of the concrete jungle, just another lost soul in a sea of millions.

It’s funny that despite the conclusiveness of “Section 16” it doesn’t necessarily represent the end for this record, as owners of a physical copy are graced with three bonus tracks that hint tantalisingly at a backlot of additional non-album content. Their omission is most likely down to issues with pacing and slight repetition of already used themes (“Deaf Implodes” mirrors “Wait” in a number of ways, and “Mosquito” could very well have been the true album closer in its similarly decaying presentation to “Section 16”), but their inclusion is strange nonetheless. Combined they make up 1/3 of the album’s runtime and constitute a lot of potential content; I enjoy them a lot but it does perhaps raise some questions as to the decision making process and hint at a level of indecision that should have been polished out. Regardless, the album as a whole is a beautiful work that feels deeply engaging and wonderfully concise, encouraging the listen to fill the music with his or her own feelings to make up for its own dynamic voids.

You can preorder the album, out on the 23rd Feb. and listen to a few tracks at Soft Recordings’ Bandcamp