An experimental creative tangent
TesseracT is a band that never shies away from experimentation. They’re the kind of prog band that’s tough to pin down in one spot. They have some roots in the metal scene due to their djent elements and that’s usually where you’ll see them touring around, but pidgeon-holing them in the metal genre is difficult. At this point, the metal elements of their music only make up a small part. Their continued use of ambience, synth, and alt-rock elements make it hard to see exactly where they fit in on the musical spectrum.
A band of their nature is almost always prone to have a Steven-Wilson-esque acclivity towards more experimental and progressive ideas. Their newest effort is a short, four-song EP titled Errai. The four tracks are remixes (or basically just complete rewrites) of songs from their last full length record, “Polaris.” The new remixes go for a softer, gentler approach to each track, changing the mood to be much more spacey and ambient feeling. It brings to mind Cynic’s Re-Traced, which also attempted to do the same thing by remixing tracks from their seminal sophomore release, Traced in Air.
Of course, Re-Traced was a controversial addition to Cynic’s catalog, with fans pretty split on their new approach. There are of course, many defenders of the EP, and Cynic did go on to include some of the remixed versions in their live shows. It’s natural for bands in the progressive realm to want to take experimental risks with their music. Even when the results aren’t always accessible to fans, it could be argued that this is actually a very positive thing in the long term. Allowing progressive artists to take a step back and do something completely different broadens their musical perspective, and what they learn from that trip will ultimately benefit their work further down the road.
Errai feels much like that, a short vacation from TesseracT’s normal routine in order to try and work with a different musical approach. This EP will not be the most exciting thing the band has put out. Granted, the music is beautiful, and well-represents the talent and innovative songwriting of the members. However, it lacks the kind of energy and dynamics that make TesseracT’s music appeal to a wider audience. The wide, open harmonies and complex instrumentations on Errai might appeal to some music nerds, but the heavier use of synth and electronic elements might be a little alienating to others.
Listening to each track side-by-side with its original version is actually pretty interesting. Each one is nearly a complete rewrite of its original, with essentially each “remix” being almost a completely new song built on some of the same foundations. The new versions feel different in style and mood, but still show off the technical and compositional prowess of the musicians behind it. The vocals of Dan Tompkins really take center-stage, showing off strong technique, phrasing, and dynamics that give a truly intimate and personal performance.
Errai probably won’t be a groundbreaking piece of work that stands out in their catalog, but it does represent a creative growth period for TesseracT. These types of experimental tangents can be good for artists. Fans will often decry new directions and worry that their favorite artist is taking a complete departure from their original sound, but really this is just an artist’s way of stretching out their legs and gaining some new creative perspective. Being in any creative field is about growth and expansion, and hopefully the departure seen on Errai will lead to some grander and more innovative music from TesseracT in the future.