The Foul Stench of Disappointment
Petrichor, the smell of fresh rain, is most closely associated with spring and summer days. The smell is found by many to be a delightful and clean scent that fills the heart with warmth and cleanses the earth of dust and dirt, purifying it to a shimmering state. In some places, though, the smell is something to be feared or avoided, in areas where rain is scarce and the dust and sewage mix together with a foul and stale potency. On Infinity Drips, the latest project by Omar Rodriguez Lopez listeners are treated to the fouler of the two odors as the once lauded post-rock star delves into the tricky waters of world music and finds himself playing about in the muck and refuse.
From the opening moments the theming of the album is apparent. If a listener is in the market for whining nonsensical wailing then they need look no further. The album is forgivingly short but remains obnoxious for the duration of its length. The tracks proceed in a manner reminiscent of Middle Eastern music and immediately call to mind the image of a desert. Unfortunately the mish-mash of sonic regions and language (much of the album is spent switching between English and Spanish) confuse the listener with a wholly unfocused vision. This is something that plagued Rodriguez on his last album and has only gotten worse in the two months since its release. The amount of chaos and dissonance Rodriguez attempts to pack into the album falls entirely flat; it’s never enjoyable but neither is it atmospheric. At its best it is similar to a fever dream, a sonic panic attack; a bad trip forever put on wax that doesn’t even have the decency to conjure a sense of dread or mystery, instead opting to confound and assail the listener with a barrage of washed out high pitched guitar strings that frantically twinkle over incomprehensible washed out voices. All in all the effect is a highly frustrating listening experience. Even if the songs were at all cohesive, the production cuts frantically in parts, like a movie missing a frame, leading to enhanced agitation as the listener struggles to grasp the meaning of such a talented artist presenting them with such a plate of indigestible slop.
The tracks as individual elements are hardly worth touching upon as they all flow endlessly into each other without meaningful variation. All but the most dedicated of listeners (and perhaps even them) would be hard pressed to identify an individual song after multiple listens. In a way this could be some sort of compliment as the album at least fits together within itself which is more than could be said for his previous album. Despite this consistency, each song continues much as described above: there are no meaningful features on any song and each track is the same woman mumble-singing accompanied by the same frantic guitar. The lack of variance is not banal or even relaxing, a trait that many ambient records use to their advantage. Sometimes a lack of variation or repetition can be used to create a surging build as is often seen in EDM or post-rock, but this album takes a different approach and attempts to capitalize on the frantic production of artists like Autechre or Drukqs-era Aphex Twin while containing none of the nuance or detail of those artists by forcing too many items into a single moment. The whole of the album adds up to a maddening experience that is difficult to imagine anyone finding enjoyment in.
The plain and simple statement is this: Infinity Drips is not good. This is the first truly frustrating album to come out in a long time. When bad music is discussed, it often stems from a lack of understanding for a genre or even a sort of “cringe factor” when bands try to capture old glory by retreading a dated style from their earlier success. This album does none of those things. In good faith it cannot be recommended, save for the straggling few that love language switching, poor production, scattered ideas, and butchered executions. These factors all boil down to the stale mix of sewage and dust, washing over disappointed listeners, who were expecting the fresh aroma of spring rain.