By Lane Oliver
2009’s thunderous What We All Come to Need was Pelican’s most diverse and well written and focused record to date. Three years is long enough to wait for new Pelican material in my opinion. Throughout their existence they have created some of the most expansive and epic instrumental passages I have ever heard. This year, Pelican once again raises the bar for other bands in their class with the four song EP Ataraxia/Taraxis. This short but sweet EP begins a new chapter in Pelican’s career and takes their established sound a step further.
Ataraxia/Taraxis may be only four songs long, but trust me when I say that this is some of the most diverse material the band has ever written. This EP begins with one of two bookend tracks, “Ataraxia”. “Ataraxia” opens up with this swelling drone that is reminiscent of a plane taking off. Then a simple acoustic guitar riff combined with subtle minimalistic electronics comes in and creates a very calming atmosphere with subtle desert rock tinges. This calm and collected introductory track makes way for the gargantuan stoner metal dirge that is “Lathe Biosas”; the lead single from the release. “Lathe Biosas” is just a huge triumphant sounding hard rock leviathan with obvious stoner and southern metal tinges. Pelican are masters at making their unique instrumental brand of music speak for itself without the aid of vocals and “Lathe Biosas” has a voice of its own. The catchy and equally crushing “Lathe Biosas” makes way for the sprawling “Parasite Colony”. Now “Parasite Colony” definitely sounds like a song that would have been on What We All Come to Need. The dense, crawling down-tuned riffs that make you feel as if you are struggling though the desert is definitely reminiscent of an early Pelican song. This track, much like the track before it, illustrates how Pelican can masterfully creating these sonically crushing bouts of sound that are equally melodic and colorful. “Taraxis” closes off the album in a similar manner that “Ataraxia” opened it. “Taraxis” also features a smoky sounding desert rock-esque acoustic guitar section. But this sand covered folk section transforms around the three minute mark into this noisy, bass laden psychedelic section that is riddled with odd effects and just reeks of hallucinogenic drugs. This EP, while short, provides enough of a narrative flow and enough expansive musical properties that give it the feel of a full length EP. On this EP, better than ever, they have managed to inject all of the dramatic feels of their earlier “epics” into shorter and more accessible durations.
At no point do these songs become annoyingly repetitive or forced. Pelican have outdone themselves with these four concisely written songs. I do wish they would have explored the odd effects and electronics side of this EP a little more but what they have provided here is a step in a very interesting direction. I am anxious to see what Pelican pulls out next. What do you think of this thing?
Label: Southern Lord
Release Date: April 10th, 2012
Favorite Tracks: “Lathe Biosas” and “Taraxis”.
For Fans of: Isis, Kyuss, Russian Circles and Earth