The most compelling part of Insect Ark’s whole artiste-forward approach to their artisinal instrumental psych-doom is how well it communicates personal crises without any vocal noise. I’d really fallen for the patterned breath and well-sung vocal of their track “Piledriver” from the project’s first 7″, thus it was hard to figure why ‘Portal/Well’ didn’t even bother with a microphone near the face. Beyond that single the project seemed to focus entirely on foreboding post-rock atmospherics and bass/slide guitar interplay. The programmed drums of ‘Portal/Well’ made Insect Ark’s sound far too sterile and the lap steel guitar hadn’t really shined as much as Schechter’s wrought and curling Dave Edwardson-esque basslines. Collaboration with drummer Ashley Spungin on ‘Marrow Hymns’ has given the project’s sound the necessarily organic sound it needs to carry a full listen. The dynamic interplay between drum and bass offer just enough fuel to keep a voiceless LP going for 45 minutes.
Though I suppose the ‘voice’ of the project has evolved towards the sound of it’s ‘Long Arms’ EP where the lap steel guitar takes on a host of sonic personalities while alternating lead voicing with synths. As a result of their experimentation with cinematic score ‘Marrow Hymns’ tasks itself with conveying existential delirium quite well, if not with such restraint that several ‘sweet spots’ are passed over for the sake of forward momentum. The dreary guitar lines mull and wrestle back and forth into the mix in such a manner that they seem to stumble off into rants that go absolutely nowhere. The only true offender here is “Slow Ray” that paints itself into those corners and eventually dries up and rescinds it’s warmth into abrupt silence. The pacing of the album suffers from these occasional issues of flow and consistency, where the post-rock soundtrack of it all spirals into clips that appear written for short visual experiences rather than intended for overt spectacle themselves.
Beyond “Sea Harps” the album leans heavily towards Lustmord style shuddering ambient works on ‘[Other]’. The increasingly minimal inclusion of drums, bass and guitar beyond that point makes for an unsatisfying conclusion. With no immediately discernible continuous conceptual relation between the final three tracks it comes across like back-loaded ambient filler. It is odd only because the first six tracks on ‘Marrow Hymns’ Insect Ark are so strong in their creeping post-metal allure and well-conceived variation. The project would either need stronger direction or lead instrumentation to hold my interest for another iteration. I’m left starving for more weepy guitar lines, more harrowing bass-clanging and atmospheric percussion yet more or less satisfied in terms of spectacle and aesthetics. It may be that the cinematic intentions of the project are simply calling for visual interpretation.
|Released||February 23, 2018|
|BUY/LISTEN on their Bandcamp!||Follow Insect Ark on Facebook|
Psychedelic/Post-Rock, Instrumental Doom Metal, Ambient
Reflections irregular. 3.0/5.0
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