It’s an interesting time for electronica, and I don’t think you need to look much further than the new album The Synaesthetic Picture Show: Part 6 by emerging heavy music titans Elektragaaz to know exactly what I’m talking about. Although not a straight prog effort in the way of some of their peers’ output recently, the atmospheric, ambient-influenced elements synonymous with the new era in the genre are found throughout songs like “The Dark Forest,” “New Boots – A Holiday Song,” and the stone-cold “Sunset Wheels.” Elektragaaz is pretty deep underground at the moment, but with a presence like theirs, it’s hard to imagine that remaining the case forever.
“American Humoresque” and “Death and the Gunfighter” boast quite the compelling use of anti-melodicism, but at no point would I say The Synaesthetic Picture Show: Part 6 devolves into an ocean of white noise shaped by industrial beats. There’s a strange harmony between the groove and the distorted synth play in “The Forge of the Red Horseman” and “New Boots – A Holiday Song” alluding to a greater relationship with the dark side of the sonic universe than a lot of this act’s contemporaries have been able to foster. They aren’t shying away from noise componentry, but overall Elektragaaz’s sound is too sophisticated to be entrenched in the obtuse and obscure exclusively.
There’s some live potential in “American Humoresque,” “Lucio the Happy Octopus,” and “The Forge of the Red Horseman” that brings to mind some of electronica’s most iconic performances, which isn’t to say that the ambient-esque properties of this material trump the value of the textures here. I do have to wonder what kind of stage show Elektragaaz could make out of The Synaesthetic Picture Show: Part 6 if they saw fit, but mostly because of the versatility within each of these compositions. “The Forge of the Red Horseman” could play like a straightforward work in person or just as easily like a visceral display of aural carnage completely devoted to the exploitation of noise rather than rhythm.
I love the fluidity of this record, and despite some of the more rigid compositional moments in “The Forge of the Red Horseman,” “Sunset Wheels,” and “American Humoresque,” I think the mashup of diverse influences in this tracklist makes it more listenable rather than less. There’s something to be said about an album as far-reaching aesthetically as this one that also plays as smoothly as The Synaesthetic Picture Show: Part 6 does even after a few listens, though I will say that those who have been listening to Elektragaaz up until now probably won’t be surprised by this feature.
Elektragaaz is an act that you need to be following if you’re into left-field emissions from profoundly gifted sources, and while The Synaesthetic Picture Show: Part 6 is one of the more deliberately rebellious works to have come to my attention this November, this is the number one reason it hasn’t left my stereo for the better part of the last week. This is somehow meditative and menacing all at once, and even when you think you’ve heard everything Elektragaaz has to throw at you here, I can guarantee you haven’t.