That sound you hear? Disappointment. It’s the collective sigh unleashed with the news that the latest Pelican record is only four tracks and 18 minutes of music. After three years since the last album see, people will want more, a lot more. Hell, it used to be that 18 minutes was only enough time for a single gargantuan epic from this Chicago outfit. The frustration though, is almost entirely unfounded.
Ok, so they haven’t been prolific but Pelican have picked their moment here, and every single second of ‘Ataraxia/Taraxis’ is terrific. The surge and swell of ‘Ataraxia’ will have you checking the skies for diving bombers and the back of your mind for your deepest, darkest fears. Acoustic and drum free, it’s not aggressive but it is powerfully ominous, closer to the work of dark ambient pioneer Lustmord or John Carpenter’s soundtracks than any post-rock touchstones. There are louds as well as quiets of course. ‘Lathe Biosas’ is a barrelling storm of a track, one that sputters out rather than coming to an explosive end perhaps but grand all the same, and ‘Parasite Colony’ is a sandblasted belter.
It doesn’t feel like studio leftovers, it feels like work that’s taken true time and energy to create. It doesn’t feel like measly scraps, it feels like a record of rare gems. It doesn’t feel slight or sparse or rushed or anything like that, it feels like an essential part of Pelican’s canon. And if this is a new foundation, a glimpse of things to come, then the sighs can switch to ones of relief immediately. Fantastic.