[PHYSICS] – Only Forever (Constellation Tatsu, 2015)


[PHYSICS] is an unusual project and one that, as such, unquestionably feels at home within the confines of Constellation Tatsu’s strange and esoteric roster; having produced synth heavy Chillwave and Vaporwave reminiscent music for the past few years they’ve made their way onto my radar before but it’s not been until Only Forever where I’ve really feel like they’ve produced a collection of pieces that actually sound pretty good together. That being said, it’s still got some weaknesses and it isn’t until we get a little ways into the record that things begin to pick up and feel a bit more compelling/unified.

The whole album seems to be orientated around this core theme of planetary exploration, immersing itself into this melting pot of retrofuturistic synth lines and drones that conjure images of optimistic space-farers of a bygone age. Opening pieces “Orbital Insertion” and “Powered Descent” establish this central theme right away; the first generating washes of ethereal and sparkly electronica, cool and crystalline in its presentation as it drifts through space, whilst the latter is more chaotic and tribal, percussive elements assisting the wailing drones as it falls from the heavens. Subsequent to that we have a period of discovery and exploration, the album rotating to capture the feeling of revelation in the face of something so deeply foreign, with “Alluvial Fantasy” and “Fractal Cave” leading the fray. Dreams of water and past landscapes burble out of “Alluvial Fantasy” and its dreamscape, while the other languishes in the synth drones that have slowly been gaining traction across the record so far, a cool and chilled moment of familiarity.

But slowly the record begins to transform into something slightly more intimidating and creepy, a sci-fi thriller in the making as it were. Things take a turn for the worse in the claustrophobic croonings of the dim “Infrasonic Enclosure”, our spelunking exercise turning into an alien prison fuelled by roiling flurries of turbulent synth, followed quickly by the surprisingly propulsive and empowered “Aberration” with its distant and unseen menace hinted through the more minimal tracts. It’s complemented by the bouncy and energetic “Intrusion”, the most rhythmic track of the record that seems altogether too jovial in its presentation, lounging in the ignorance of human curiosity as we carelessly impinge where we are not desired yet again.

Hints of these alien captors appear in “Biomorph”‘s chugging and gurgling blebs, organic churnings squeezing themselves uncomfortably out of the darkness, but there’s no time to investigate the source of these wet and mysterious sounds and thus they remain distant and elusive, but in true form there is no escape; “Sutural Contingency” highlights some anatomical problem we’ve encountered on our endeavour in its creeping and probing synth drones, flat pulses of tentative sound that almost sigh with resignation as they melt into “No Return” and its dense, woozy sequences of lost and confused sound. It manages to sound tired yet acceptant, its fate decided and out of its hands and perhaps in a bleary opiate induced haze. Closer “Kepler’s Lament” secures our fate permanently with each passing moment drifting us further from home, its extended span allowed to inject a certain degree more poignancy and finality into its wallowing, ebbing drones, watching the skies and knowing our hope speeds slowly out of view.

Its thematic consistency is admirable and I realise I’ve made it sound rather appealing but I do have a few concerns about its pacing and the general overuse of synth; sometimes it just feels too garish and obnoxious, that some of those electronic beepings and flangings could have been dialled down or replaced with something a little less conspicuous, but I digress. It’s not something I think I’m going to find myself revisiting all too often but once it’s afforded an opportunity for close inspection and consideration it does begin to shine more than you’d expect; it tells a detailed little story in a surprisingly clear way that’ll keep you as entertained as any film would. Worth investigating for sure.