‘Polaris’ is the third studio album from British progressive rockers TesseracT and is a highly experimental sounding record, packed to the rafters with disorienting dynamics and jarring rhythms. This is highly textured complex listening and will require a heavy investment on the part of the listener.
First track ‘Dystopia’ pretty much encapsulates the band’s signature sound with the twangy bass line and jarring riff underscored by electronic elements. The result is slightly chaotic, burying the vocal a little, and does in fact make it sound like a dystopian soundtrack. As on a number of other tracks, well pretty much every track actually, there are quiet atmospheric sections interspersed somewhat randomly and a distinct lack of traditional song structure. This is not necessarily a bad thing but it does add to the overall sense of disorientation.
There are some interesting moments on the record such as on the urgent drama of the storytelling vibe on ‘Hexes’ and the intense ‘Survival’, ‘Tourniquet’ also takes some cool twists and turns instrumentally, with a section of repetitive riffing, but the problem is that they are just that, moments.
I realise that progressive rock is not all about big-assed choruses, but for me TesseracT commit the cardinal sin of music-making in having a distinct lack of hooks; I don’t care what kind of music you play but there’s got to be a hook somewhere, it doesn’t need to be massive, just memorable, something to provide a little punctuation. When there’s nothing to fix a song in the brain, like here; it all just rolls into one, even more so when the bass and guitars are with the same effects almost all the way through. There is also a kind of crisp sharpness to the sound that is very jarring, it’s all hard edges like a noisy coffee shop with nothing to absorb the clatters and clashes.
I like bands to take a chance and do something a little out of the ordinary, exploring artistic boundaries and pushing creative limits, so hats off to TesseracT for doing that, but for me the overall effect here is of something chaotic and ultimately not very pleasant, despite the obvious talent and their dedication to the project. Not for the faint hearted.
‘Polaris’ by TesseracT is out now on KScope.
Words by Edward Layland (@EdwardLayland)