Almost a one-trick pony
Sometimes a band becomes more famous for its place within another work then on the merits of their own records. There’s nothing wrong with this, of course, hundreds of bands have used the placement of their songs in films and TV as a way to push their album sales, hell there’s a whole SNL sketch based on an Imogen Heap song. But even among all of these potentially interesting cases, 65daysofstatic stands out as unique. Some bands have had a song or two popularized by a video game, typically through a feature on a blockbuster like GTA, but rarely has a game soundtrack made quite as much buzz as Music for an Infinite Universe did when it accompanied the formerly maligned No Man’s Sky. In an interestingly similar fashion, their latest record replicr, 2019 proves both why they were the best part of that game while making a case that soundtracks were a universe they were better suited to.
No band wants to be referred to as a one-trick pony, but inevitably that’s what some bands will turn out to be. Sometimes, a one-trick pony is a pretty great thing to be. ACDC basically made variations on the same song over and over again BUT that song kicked so much ass that none of us cared, or even wanted to hear them try and be anything but a one-trick pony. Other times, a lack of creativity is less charming, especially when it comes from someone like Nickleback, or Creed. replicr, 2019, and by extension 65daysofstatic is somewhere in the middle of this. The album doesn’t really push any boundaries from the group’s previous work, but what they do create is fairly engaging, even if it would be better as a soundtrack than it is as a standalone album.
When broken apart, the diamonds of the record become apparent quickly, separating themselves out from the vast endless spaces of humming that permeate much of its runtime. Two titans that immediately jump out are “stillstellung” and “popular beats” both of which craft a scattered array of sound that bends and twists itself in dramatic and unexpected ways. “popular beats” is achingly close to a Clark track, but is even messier in places, created a knotty, gnarled soundscape full of grit and static that smothers the listener, while “stillstellung” is a huge, propulsive rhythm-driven track. If we found aliens going on the war march “stillstellung” would be an excellent choice for their parade of dominance. And while it comes later in the record “z03” is an absolute ripper of a track, the back half tinkers with deliciously grating synths that cross over into the realms of Roly Porter and Ben Frost, adding a bit of viciousness to a rather calm journey.
What hampers this album is the abundance of tracks that feel a little too close to an interlude. Cuts like “lid” and “d| | t| | |” never really go far enough that their noodling or droning works into a compelling structure, and the sounds in question are neither strange or vicious enough that they remove the need of such a structure in the way that an artist like William Basinski or GAS might at times. That said, none of these tracks are offensively boring, rather they float by unobtrusively, and would probably fit rather well were they behind something instead of being the object of attention.
There’s a lot of good in this record. Far more good than bad when one takes a step back, but there’s always this lurking feeling that there could’ve been something more. Like an action movie with too few thematic points, it never fully commits to being just one thing. The album dangles an idea in front of your face, a drone album, a noise album, a post-rock album, and never really gets them to mesh well enough that they tip into the rarefied air of being great, it’s just okay. Luckily, that’s okay too.