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Ian Crause
The Song Of Phaethon EP Ned Raggett , July 28th, 2014 08:41

I can't not begin my review of Ian Crause's newest release without acknowledging my close interest – a longtime Disco Inferno fan since shortly after their initial releases, an original compiler of The Five EPs as a bootleg CDR, an acquaintance of his for a few years now. So take it as read I would be well disposed towards anything by one of those artists who successfully rearranged the possibilities in my head at an early age, and left a lingering impact that just seems to grow more in importance with time. His first full solo album The Vertical Axis helped start this year right; this follow-up three-part EP acts as a perfect concentration of his abilities and current foci.

The first part of The Song Of Phaethon was shared a couple of years ago on Crause's Bandcamp page. As a fully self-contained piece now, three parts of a rise-and-fall story referencing the Greek myth about the son of the sun god who overreached in trying to drive the solar chariot and fell from the heavens, using that as a lens to look at Western intervention in Iraq and all that resulted and still results from it, it aims high by design. But this is often the work of Crause, a constant irruption of past constructions into present history and future fears, a world collapsing under its own weight and follies. There is attempt at understanding, but there's never a guarantee it's going to be anything close to okay.

The Severed Heads comparisons that Disco Inferno won at the time make perhaps even more sense here – separated even more fully from a rock band setup, it's a flowing swirl of sound, where beats are less important than collages of loop and blasts and sudden bursts, a sense of progressing through a story. Horses gallop wildly, the sun god's chariot triumphant then collapsing, as jets dive through the sky, bombs go off, newscasters try and neutrally describe death, all while driving a sense of constant progression and motion. It's almost music that should be heard while you move forward and it slides around you.

The hook, best described, is that it is always a world of tactile pleasures, enacting horrors with a clear sense of drawing you in rather than driving you away. Crause's voice speak/sings in a steady pace throughout much of the piece, a poetic recitation, but moves constantly between near clarity to being intentionally crushed in the swirl of sound.

As a whole, The Song Of Phaethon manages the hard trick of not being a conventional song as such – there is no verse/chorus here or at any point – but using lyrics as both rhythmic base and appealing throughline, a dry near-rasp. When everything concludes over a slow, drawing hint of feedback, piano and moaning electronics into a final minute including mournful martial beats, his voice almost becomes an invocation, but the impact is not so much praise as agog astonishment that anything's left.