REVIEW: Elektragaaz — The Synaesthetic Picture Show Now Playing, Pt. 2 (EP)

Well, this is just a treat! Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of music you’d hear on the late-night block, Adult Swim. Sounds like Bibio, Com Truise, Flying Lotus to name a few. A lot of it is instrumentals that create a distinct atmosphere whether it’s peaceful and vibey or something a little harder. Elektragaaz and their new album The Synaesthetic Picture Show Now Playing, Pt. 2 (what a title) fits perfectly amongst them. This follows up their earlier release this year, the Pt. 1 to this fantastic picture show.

SOUNDCLOUD: https://soundcloud.com/elektragaaz

The album is a trip across 6 phenomenal instrumental tracks all building on the last with an emphasis on mood and layered sounds. The first part of The Synaesthetic Picture Show had a lighter tone, something that told a more uplifting tone, and depending on the narrative intention, Elektragaaz follows it up with something a little tougher, but no less and enjoyable. The follow-up EP never goes hardcore dark and never becomes the kind of night-core electronic it could have easily devolved into. This album is also a producer’s dream. Its mixing and mastering are on a level of professional precision and with so many assets flying around in each track, it never feels cluttered or just feels like noise.

It should be noted that the band is also technically a fictional virtual band in its own universe. It’s an interesting detail and is reminiscent of Gorillaz or the film attached to Daft Punk’s discovery, but I wish the album leaned more into that aspect with either its promotional material or even in the album’s liner notes. It’s kind of odd for music bursting with so much personality and its own world and we’re left at an arm’s length. I will say, the lack of context beyond their premise as a band allows you to fill in the gaps on a personal level as to what the album might be about. You might get some context clues as well based on the flamboyant track titles.

The album also works on what I call the “Kids See Ghosts” level. Even though it’s six tracks, some running at a length of nearly 6 minutes, it finds a way to feel full and realized instead of skeletal. Opener track “Reflections in a Funkhouse Mirror” perfectly calls to mind the kind of wavy and winding electronica with funk and soul infusion that we’ve become more familiarized with albums like Random Access Memories, but even this track subverts what you think would be a standard affair with a phenomenal string breakdown that’s wholly unexpected.

“Achillies Back From the Dead” feels akin to a video game track from the 90s with its stripped back and artificial components that make it feel like you’re in the leadup to a final boss with an escalating sense of dread. I don’t want to spoil for others the rest of the album, and I do think it works easily on its own but also as a sequel. Elektragaaz is a fresh and exciting vision for multi-fusion electronica and I’m highly awaiting what comes next.

Colin Jordan