Skryptor – Luminous Volumes (2019) REVIEW

If you’ve ever felt like you’re running hot, not sweating, just a head full of thoughts that are hot to the touch you know a catchy rock song is just going to spin it all in an obnoxious circle. You aren’t a rodent pacing the walls, no that kind of ‘running hot’ where the mania of whatever great idea is a cherub sitting its sweaty ass on your forehead dangling your idea off a stick and to stop stumbling and grasping at it would kill the buzz of whatever trip your head is on. You need that idea you need to chase it and by all means, go nuts. You need to cool down, though, and for the vast majority of the folks who’ll ever click on these words it’ll be something deleterious and raw enough that structure never slaps the wheel and ups the tempo. For those of us who feel the mania of a great idea and occasionally mourn for its unrealized “10:00am shower genius” plenty of noise rock offers a clog in the drain so that the water can at least reach the ankles and even the most mathematical version of that anti-rock edge can keep the wheels turning for hours on end. Hell, cut the screaming dude in the middle and just focus on free-flowing runs of narrative and oft-percussive guitar-and-bass wrangling characteristic of the sub-genre and why not structure it atop that punked-the-fuck-up jazz infused drumming to really let it flow? I’d say that is where Skryptor come into view, with a grand entrance by way of ‘Luminous Volumes’.

Latching onto noise rock in between the commercially peaking grunge trend and the advent of sludge metal always felt like a life preserver for my mind, a kinda underground feeling rope back to the reality of what a depressive pile of silly bones I was as a teenager. Sure the pre-requisite Touch and Go era The Jesus Lizard and the mild misfortune of discovering NoMeansNo through Jello Biafra saw me pushing the issue more than I needed to but, that mix of freak out and a completionist spirit towards Albini-wizarded sounds eventually lead me to Dazzling Killmen and that shared lineage had me perk up and check out Skryptor‘s free-wheeling synchronization between Dazzling Killmen guitarist Tim Garrigan, Craw guitarist (bassist here) David McClelland and STATS drummer/journalist Hank Shteamer. Look up those resumes, soak in the post-hardcore, noise rock, art-core fusion of it all and wipe your chin of that early 90’s angst because Skryptor channel an experience here that’d only indulge in intuitive rhythms arrived upon through some manor of organic process. Keep your mitt aimed out of left field and make sure you’re not above using it as a pillow when the moment calls for lazing about in the grass.

“Summer Blossoms” is that moment to be sure. A glistening nine and a half minute daisy-flicking drawl is no reasonable place (the end) to start with but steel yourself for an album of movement and incredible verbosity until that respite at the end. Even in the midst of that shimmering Elysium you may or may not feel some anxiety, some eagerness to keep going. ‘Luminous Volumes’ is a set of rants that comes from minds thinking faster than they can speak and well, the only voice Skryptor affords themselves are these dynamic adventures offered one piece at a time. Electrically overcharged bass tones, warbling jazz-souped noise rock dissonance, and oft-throttled mathematical rhythms are too precise here to be jams. They feel like jams, the read like jams and they jam to be sure but the movements Skryptor achieve together are too intentional and personality juiced to be a musical language expressed at random rather than a composed craft. You might be belly button deep in this thing before you realize you’re listening to a progressive rock record with a heavy jazz-enabled metallic rip to it but, if you did your homework and look towards the Killmen, the Craw and the ‘stay fucked‘ spirits behind the virtuosic lilt of “Lotus and Mace” you’re gonna feel welcome in their house; Wait for that “War Pigs”-ish gig around six minutes in, if it doesn’t have you waving an upside-down cross around your home office at 6pm while you’re flipping through social media, you’re the wrong guy for the job to begin with.

The bustle and grind of the concrete city around you becomes a deadly waterfall as “Mystification” pours from Skryptor‘s hands, anxious metallic clangor highlights the wailing cliffs of “Red Mountain”, and look… You’ve earned another hit of “Summer Blossoms” at this point. Initially I’d felt the two part “The Orchard” interludes stifled the graceful muscles that Skryptor were using in this electric display of rhythmic gymnastics but they offer a too-large chunk of ground pepper in a salad that could afford to shock the palate clean rather than wipe it; It surely helps that McClelland is a fine bassist. The more I sit and flip through it the more I cease to see obstructions along the way as this trio weave and wail their way forward. Though I’m prone to devalue instrumental music for the sake of loving prose a bit too much ‘Luminous Volumes’ provides such a ride, a dynamic luge-and-splatter of nigh celebratory musicianship that it’d have even less of a narrative voice were there a vocal foil shaking in the midst. Of course I’d made the mistake of not yet ordering the 200 page book of short stories and art that they’ve made available as a companion to the piece so, consider my thoughts mildly insular as I pull only from the sound of Skryptor. All of that said, I can give high recommendation for ‘Luminous Volumes’ though with the caveat that it could potentially mean more to you if you’ve some love for the musician’s body of work. For preview purposes you’re going to have to take a leap of faith into the extensive flows of “Lotus and Mace” to really get the bigger picture as fast as humanly possible.


Artist Skryptor
Type Album
Released March 29, 2019
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Genre Post-Hardcore,
Noise Rock,
Instrumental Rock

Flailing the self. 3.75/5.0

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