As the mastermind behind the sadly missed Dodecahedron, future works of Michel Nienhuis were always going to challenge conventions. This was certainly the case with Autarkh’s debut Form In Motion which was as abrasive as it was innovative in its execution. So, in perhaps expected fashion, a new album feels markedly different to its predecessor with sophomore release Emergent (Season Of Mist), if not proving any less progressive and captivating.
Where Form In Motion was a largely, unwaveringly dissident affair, Emergent feels distinctly less so at many points, driving towards a more expansive sound in places and a greater diversity overall. This is abundantly clear on the hypnotic album opener “Open Focus” which feels hugely more melodic than anything off their debut yet is still armed with thumping bass and electronic beats alongside a strikingly more towering vocal melody. The following “Strife” continues with its predecessor’s mid-tempo but feels somewhat heavier with thunderous synth in place of percussion and uses such strikes in place of relentless blasting beats; ultimately proving more brooding than the opening.
There is a steady progression throughout the opening brace before “Trek” provides a more frenzied experience, with intense and pacey industrial-like electronica drives much of the song alongside chaotically screamed vocals. At just over four minutes, “The Eye Of Horus” is a surprisingly sprawling and busy piece with ideas and diversions which belie its run time, it feels like a nod to classic progressive rock territory in structure. Finally, the closing “Ka” offers a powerful introduction with continued hammered beating, which continues through much of the song, yet simultaneously feels expansive and hugely immersive.
With an already immense and boundary-breaking catalogue, the continued work of Nienhuis through Autarkh was hardly going to be straightforward to analyse and yet the evolution and diversity in Emergent still feels somewhat surprising, in the best possible way. Emergent proves to be a very fitting title as the album has quite an unfamiliar sound and direction from their debut release, but one that is hugely rewarding and signals at aspects of larger dynamisms without losing that streak of intensity and abrasion entirely.
Buy the album here:
7 / 10