2. Three Gates
2. Swollen Sun
3. The Vanishing
Instrumental psychedelic doom duo Insect Ark have creating uncomfortable sonicscapes that feel both intimate and icy cold since 2011. Nightmarish horror film-like visions, outer space travel, and gritty noir textures – all of this and more have been conjured up in their past records, the much-praised Portal / Well (2015) and Marrow Hymns (2018), but now, something even bigger is coming. Prepare for The Vanishing.
The intensity and the dedication poured into the songs is clearly audible, not to mention the wizardry of engineer Colin Marston, a perfect choice if there ever was any to capture a work of this nature. The distinction from Insect Ark’s past works is also very noticeable. The band, along with Colin, intentionally steered the sound in a much more visceral, organic direction, and sometimes you can almost feel enclosed within a living, pulsating, slithering organism as the music washes over you. The ebb and flow of the songs as they bleed into each other is so natural that you’d be forgiven for thinking Dana and Andy tinkered with each of them for months on end after listening to The Vanishing, because they all feel like clearly defined enclosed universes all of their own. That crushing weight of Tectonic is followed by Three Gates, a jarring, almost disorienting clash of dissonance and groove where the lap steel plays a fundamental role, and that segues straight into the otherworldly duo of Philae and Danube, the album’s ethereal, sinister centerpieces, and the ones that most clearly exemplify the tight dynamics set in place by the masterful songwriting. The album’s most dreamy songs, their cloudy lapsteel magic is nevertheless constantly and consistently underpinned by Patterson’s swirling and earthy drum patterns, sounding for all the world as if the two recently acquainted musicians become a tight-knit army when these songs are flowing out of them. The album artwork, an amazing painting by French artist Sonia Merah, is in and of itself a work of art, but when paired with these two songs in particular, it becomes a truly haunting and mesmerising vision of some terribly twisted alternate reality. The album is then rounded out by the synth-heavy Swollen Sun, a trippy four minute journey that feels like a foray into the insides of an abandoned spaceship drifting somewhere in outer space, and by the haunted rollercoaster that is the closing title-track, a sort of summing up of all the many components that make The Vanishing so unique-sounding.