Artifex Pereo

Time In Place

Written by: TL on 12/08/2014 19:37:44

"Yeah, haha, we're not too big on writing choruses". Along those lines replied Kentucky sextet Artifex Pereo in some otherwise long forgotten interview posted ahead of their newest full length "Time In Place", which came out a few months ago. This would have alarm bells ringing with me normally, because I consider it an obligation for bands that deviate from proven songstructure to come up with a result that actually justifies the deviation and because bands that meet this obligation have unicorn-like status in my experience. Yet curious forays into the record - the band's third release overall - soon established that the group had enough allure to demand further investigation regardless, and presto, here we go:

As it turns out, the truth is more precisely that Artifex Pereo aren't too big on conventional verse-chorus flows, but there are yet reoccuring refrains and progressions which provide the listener with recognizable landmarks in the band's musical landscape, and this is crucial because listening to "Time In Place" can be likened to being handcuffed to the tail of a young dragon, which has just learned flight and is consequentially speeding across some exotic landscape without care for the listener it has dangling behind it. Or in plain talk; Artifex Pereo's super complex prog rock is positively blistering, and in a good way too. The guitar tone and style compares to Closure In Moscow's Mansur Zennelli as it races up and down the fretboard with break-neck speed and interchanges scales for chords dynamically and superbly. Meanwhile the delicate singing from Jamie Davis - who also handles guitar alongside colleague Jordan Haynes - is also masterful, bearing uncanny resemblance to I The Mighty's Brent Walsh and matching the soundscape with constantly well-timed inflections - both soft and scratched - that will have fans mouthing along made-up lyrics in no time. Drummer Cory Eaves also must be mentioned, for keeping things groovy when the guitars race off into the stratosphere, making sure that any live witnessing of the band would feature your body occupied with swaying to the beat while your face gets melted. In truth, it's only bassist Eugene Barker that labours in relative obscurity underneath the rich textures provided by his compatriots, as keyboardist Jeremiah Brinkworth - although arguably a bit under-utilised - makes his presense felt with the opportunities he's given.

Specifically, look no further than to second track "To Listen & Say Nothing": The refrain of "How are you so sure that all of this was made with hands?" is one to get lodged in your brain quickly, and the vivid striking patterns of Eaves expertly keep you air-drumming while things get explorative between the second and third minute mark. Prior to this, opener "No Stranger To Worry" has already blown the door of the hinges when sending a swirling climb of a chorus into a pummeling romp of a bridge section early on, while third song "Hands Of Penance" ends with a break-down style part that goes hard enough to potentially get a brief ground-slamming pit open. Later on the record, further highlights of the rampant creativity on offer here include "Laugh & The World Laughs With You" which dismantles into a funky mid-part where the keys take an organ sound while cascading irresistably behind a great piece of rhythmical vocal work from Davis, and come the rare bit of minimalism when the two coorperate again in closer "Overview", one wonders why the simple interplay between singing and clean keys isn't used even more across the record as a whole.

Indeed, for all the obvious qualities exploding in your face like fireworks when you pop on "Time In Place", equally obvious and easily expected are the album's drawbacks. For starters it does feel long, even if a length of thirteen tracks and fifty minutes is far from unreasonable, but this is only a symptom of the band's youthful and reckless approach to songstructure. While the extremely well-rounded interplay between soft, hard, rhythmic and melodic ensures that listening doesn't become boring for a second, the almost constant exuberance of notes makes it feel like the record was made to overpower you with sheer technical ability, leaving the lyrical narratives to operate as best they can in parallel. It's clear when the tempo is lowered in quiet numbers like "Liable For Tragedy" or "Tied To The Sunset", that the results are more in the realm of the ordinary when the instrumentals need to labour in service to the vocals, which overall makes "Time In Place" somewhat hard to connect with, at least if you eventually get your jaw scraped up from the floor it's been on for the first handful of playthroughs.

The best way to express it is that it's like listening to something that has volcanic energy, yet needs to find its soul and connect the two more cohesively. It's a record that has too many highlights to recount, yet they are thrown into the midst of a whirlwind of ideas, and while they stick out like spires in the soundscape they also irrevocably cast spectres of what could have been if the band had recognised them for the centerpieces that they are, and built around them with more focus. For this reason, you almost want to grade "Time In Place" down a by half notch, simply to indicate the vast ceiling of opportunity you imagine they have yet to explore above and beyond this accomplishment, but at the same time, the album is such a stimulating listen that it becomes hard to look around and find other records to knock it off its course towards the high marks. The competition is simply not strong enough to keep Artifex Pereo out, not when their album is as this, like a shot of adrenaline to the ears, making your blood rush and all systems feel like they're ready to go.


Download: To Listen & Say Nothing, Laugh & The World Laughs With You, The Golden Age
For The Fans Of: Icarus The Owl, Tides Of Man, I The Mighty, Closure In Moscow

Release date 27.05.2014
Tooth & Nail Records

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