OverScan – Conscious (Constellation Tatsu, 2015)


Self-awareness and consciousness are amongst the human race’s most prized attributes; the ability to feel, to empathise, to know your place in the Universe, things that we often take for granted and indeed, qualities that we sometimes wish we never possessed. Through the trace Krautrock and now aged synth drone movements of OverScan’s sophomore LP Conscious we get a glimpse of these desires of detachment and emotional separation through its initial pangs of angst, moving gracefully into more introspective motions that soothe these thoughts away and accept these heavy feelings with a more open mind, relishing in the flexibility of human emotional capacity.

The first few tracks are the harshest and most emotionally demanding, in particular the opener “Old Haunts”; its initial moments are defocused and meandering, woozy synths turning alongside fragments of radio static, this mush of sound eventually crystallising into more coherent and empowered sequences, collapsing into rushes of pained static and the jarring and dystopic chaos of fragmentary memory, old moments reliving themselves painfully in ruinously abrasive passages of rising sound. Yet despite the anxious exterior and the heady currents of grinding textural oppression, there’s this sense that’s it’s only superficial and skin deep, some hint of delicate lightness in the underlying melody that makes it feel momentary and insignificant.

There’s a deep catharsis to be experienced in its followup piece “The Next Morning” though; at first there’s a touch of sleep to its peaceful subtractions at the beginning, the light synths that permeate the early morning find themselves soothing and touchingly nostalgic, but as time goes by and as we begin to awaken the proclivities begin to emerge. A rush of unconstrained voices finds itself being re-lived, tainted with some sense of wist or regret but we find it quickly overrun, the mind blotting out these memories and sensations with a rush of cathartic noise, a suppressive wall of urging sound to drown out that which we don’t want to remember. This uneasiness continues on in the aptly, yet menacingly, titled “Terrorvision”, opening on skittering pulses of flanging electronica before making way for brooding synth lines hovering obtrusively and unwaveringly in the fore, the piece continuing the tradition of rising on an unsettling crescendo of supplementary shifting textural mass, a rush of warning sound that we seem to ride away from the things that bring us pain.

The other half of the album is a little different, insofar as it’s not as abrasive or openly menacing in its construction, although it still retains needling anxieties underneath its growing warmth. The title track shepherds in this new half, sounding as though it wouldn’t be out of place on the Blade Runner soundtrack in its ethereal, spacious synths, slowly unfurling on assistant drones in tentative growth, radiating out in soft and languid waves with its post-crescendo moments even more serene and self-satisfied, as though pleased at itself in overcoming the prior adversities. As things begin to settle down and the quiet life begins to envelope us once more, “Perspective” invokes quiet scenic bliss in its lapping waves and chirruping insects alongside its pleasantly distant and relaxed musical accompaniments, its lazy turnings happily deprived of the cacophonic urban mass from whence it came. Is it all an internal construct though? Some safe haven we’ve imagined in the back of our mind? Closer “The Pitch” possibly hints at this day-dreaming, self-protecting notion as it descends ever deeper into luxuriously cruising synth, lost in its own ethereal motions but sounding oddly off-kilter, a faint and damaged voice creeping out of the near-field like some kind of local anchor to reality.

There’s some interesting philosophical debate possible here I feel but I’m not the man up to the task; Conscious is a strong effort that seeks to remind us that, although the things we might revisit in our mind will feel real and raw, that we might allow ourselves to be emotionally twisted and damaged, we are the controllers of our own self and internal peace is always possible, we just have to do the hardest thing first: let go. Constellation Tatsu never fails to provide interesting and thoughtful albums wrapped in sonically fascinating and variegated containers and this is no exception; really excellent and demanding record. You can buy it for free/name your own price at their Bandcamp below: