S U R V I V E - RR7349 (Relapse Records) 2016
Between Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein’s recent breakthrough success with Stranger Things (or most notably its tensely anachronistic score) and a general synthwave revival, the timing couldn’t be better for S U R V I V E’s return.
An elegantly spacious collection of atmospheric electronica that is, by turns, eerie, gorgeous, dreamlike, catchy and shot through with subtle malevolence, in RR7349 the Texan quartet have created something that rivals, and in some ways transcends, the albums from which they take their cues. While “Dirt” carries a slow and steady momentum, its rhythmic pulsations imperceptibly driving swooping Moroder melodies and brief stabs of rock star derring-do, “Sorcerer” reins in that musical impetus, leaving the listener stranded as banks of noise descend like fog (though “Low Fog”, which follows on from it, takes that sense of ethereal claustrophobia and draws the walls even further in).
Given their choice of instrumentation and texture, there’s a naturally cinematic feel – one minute a masked killer is stalking his ground, the next a desperate family are beset on all sides by vicious thugs – but on the whole, S U R V I V E never seem bound by such aesthetics, nor by their vast array of influences. Instead, they are shaping a world, a sonic cosmos that operates according to their rules – it’s a dark place, but the sense of wonder and mystery makes it a joy to traverse.