AMN Reviews: Thisquietarmy x Away – Machine Consciousness, Phase III (2022; Consouling Sounds)

In 2019, guitarist Eric Quach (thisquietarmy) and drummer Michel Langevin (Away) recorded a set of sessions, much of which resulted in the duo’s two previous albums, The Singularity, Phase I and The Singularity, Phase II. This effort also came from those sessions, though it was produced further by Quach, adding bass from Charles Bussières and brass from Reüel Ordoñez. Thus, Machine Consciousness, Phase III has a deeper, richer sound than its predecessors while remaining in the same general sonic locale.

And that locale is a rather unique one, with Langevin alternating between steady hard-rock beats and exploring the edges of more complex patterns with improvisatorial flair. Quach’s efforts are more clearly extemporized, taking the forms of muddy walls of sound and processed drones. Bussières’ bass follows in kind, either providing a rhythm along with Langevin or adding to the atmospherics. Ordoñez contributes long-held tones that add ominous layers to the mix. When these pieces get going, they are reminiscent of classic Hawkwind or Kosmiche music with driving rhythms supporting trippy jams. But there is an overall heaviness and dark tone that brings to mind dystopian science fiction.

What this all adds up to is a genre-straddling fusion of styles – metal, psychedelia, free improv, drone, experimental, and probably a few others. But these influences are pieced together in a seamless manner that can serve as a soundtrack for an imaginary movie, while retaining enough detail that makes more attentive listening an enjoyable journey. Another brilliant release from Quach and Langevin, hopefully not the last.

Machine Consciousness, Phase III will be released on October 7 by Consouling Sounds.

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