AMN Reviews: Future Usses – The Existential Haunting (2018; Pelagic Records)

Future Usses is an unconventional take on the traditional power trio that lands between post-rock and doom metal. The group consists of Sacha Dunable on guitar and loops, Derek Donley on drums, and Dan Wilburn on bass. The Existential Haunting is their debut. In addition to power chords and echoing picked motifs, Dunable uses various forms of processing and overdubbing to produce synth-like sounds from his guitar. As a consequence, the overall sound is thicker and richer than one would expect from a three-piece, often verging on the orchestral or cinematic.

While Dunable’s lead instrument is attention-getting, with its distortion turned up almost to the overdrive level, Donley and Wilburn are a more than competent rhythm section. Wilburn makes his bass growl, bounce, and pound through heavy patterns and subtle foreground efforts. Donley adds a generous dose of fills to his metal-styled drumming. This varied approach results in each track having its own distinct character. And especially toward the second half of the album, Future Usses explores atmospherics with sequenced interludes and the aforementioned synth elements.

As an example, Absolute Zero begins with heavily distorted and processed overdubbed guitar, then breaks into a slow-moving – yet soaring – melody accompanied by a rubbery bass line.  At about the halfway mark, the guitar is replaced in part by a choral patch. This prevails over a driving rhythm until it is ultimately rejoined by the guitar picking out, and then riffing out, a repetitive strain for the remainder of the piece.

The Existential Haunting is an exploration of timbre and texture as much as more customary rock stylings. While I would not call this album strictly avant-garde, it strays far enough from the beaten path to warrant a strong nod. Check it out on its release date of September 14.

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