No matter how you slice it, Brooklyn duo ERAAS are a post-punk breath of frigid air. They’re dark in the way abandoned buildings and urban decay are poetic, and on their sophomore album Initiation they take that aesthetic to a far deeper level than that of their previous work. Unlike their debut self-titled LP, Initiation finds more gradients in soundscapes. Opening track, “Looking Glass/Pettibon,” comes on mellow, with swirling, thudding bass replicating into infinity before strands of piano and softer samples float in. Gone are the nightmarish samples of haggard ’80s effects, wonderfully replaced by a more organic tinge. Even vocally, ERAAS have advanced.
“The Dream” continues that slightly softer, muffled bent, coursing through echoey harmonies like a drainage pipe filled with water headed out to the sea. The short jaunt of “Above” is the only semblance of ERAAS’ former selves. The group spawned from the slightly post-punk ensemble Apse and turned their attention full-force to the genre. It only makes sense that they would come on strong and find balance later. The biggest shock of this new balance is just how quickly it’s been achieved. Sure, there’s more percussion and drive to “Above,” but the very specific tones they’ve chosen refuse to be sacrificed to a more upbeat, rocky approach.
It all manifests beautifully on closing with the album’s eponymous track, “Initiation.” Clocking in at a little over seven minutes, the lengthy, building piece acts as an elongated model of where ERAAS is heading sonically. Slow-moving strings meander along low end hand-claps and vibrato-laden synth in an engulfing mix of post-punk expansiveness and orchestral nuance. It’s the type of track that halts the banalities of the day and surrounds your psyche. Nothing else seems to matter, save for making out the layered vocals slowly moving past. In Initiation, ERAAS prove that their forward momentum have propelled them safely away from the dreaded sophomore slump and into sonic gold.