by Dan Goldin (@post_trash_)
No matter how you look at it (or listen to it, really), Tundrastomper's sophomore album O is one of the year's wildest rides. The Western Mass quartet bend time and space to create soaring "basement prog" with unassuming force, a sound that's vividly complex yet free of pretension, embracing shifts and polyrhythmic freak-outs as narrative visions. It's a bumpy voyage, full of jagged twists and turns, but despite the band's mutant technicality and penchant for skipping time signatures, Tundrastomper make it all feel natural, swerving down a cliff side road in the dark without concern.
O is undoubtedly progressive, reconstructing elements of jazz fusion, psych, bubbling dream-pop, beachy math rock, and slacker punk into something that's both dizzying, explosive and still reserved in temperament. There are enough peaks and valleys to make anyone a bit queasy, but Skyler Lloyd's (vocals/guitar) melodies create a consistent calm, a balance to the sonic splendor crashing all around them, leveling the madness. The songs unfold and unravel, built around Andrew Jones (bass) and Max Goldstein's (drums) jaw dropping rhythms, a constant spark of energy without limits, bursting with radiant colors and unpredictable dexterity. Just when you start to understand Tundrastomper's path, the band have shifted again, pairing moments of tranquility with contorted art-rock. Songs like "O Translucent Animal" and the jazzy "Piles and Piles" dart back and forth between these dispositions within an ever evolving framework, bouncing between detached grooves and waves of serenity, while others like "Pyramid" and "Total Problem" rip down a straightforward (yet undeniably tangled) path of tidal strength.
For all its divergent sections, ideas, and magnificent technicality, O is a visionary work of focus and control, casually leaning into new directions without pushing or pulling. "Myth of Slop" opens the record with Lloyd and Sam Brivic's disorienting guitars and an off centered rhythm, swirling with an infinite depth. There's stability in the song's simple (by comparison) vocal melody however, gluing the pieces together at the shattered edges. The album convulses in this manner from start to finish, a head-trip of cohesive intricacies. Culminating with "Circular Gaze," a brutal dirge of dissonant noise, spiraling guitar progressions, and corrosive rhythms, Tundrastomper manage to float just above the ground crumbling beneath them. It's one last claustrophobic gasp as the walls close in, a sludgy explosion of calculated fury from an unapologetic band bent of chaotic brilliance. Hearing is believing.
Tundrastomper's O is out July 7th via Sad Cactus Records. The band will celebrate their album release show on July 6th at The Sierra Grille in Northampton, MA (RSVP) with Hot Dirt and Experimental Audio Damage.