An Ant And An Atom‘s last release, the single-track Entropy, was a blast of thick, angry textures, a railing against the world. The new set, Exterior, ends up in the same place, but takes a different road to get there. In the opening minutes, one might even mistake it for a post-rock album, the intriguing bass failing to give way to the expected peaks and valleys. Instead, it retreats into keys and quiet static, seeming to honor the title of the previous release.
Looking at the thicket on the cover, one thinks, I would not want to weed that yard. Yet this is exactly what Sean Warkentine does with his sonic palette, creating a sense of impending implosion. We already know that he can cut loose, so his restraint is laudable. The press release calls this “dronier than previous releases”, but to these ears the opposite holds true; “Locked in Adrift” seems like a pleasant trip to a lonely aviary, while the chimes of the ensuing track are lovely enough to be nursery music. But soon the dark clouds begin to gather, and by the end of the penultimate piece, they swarm. As Public Enemy says, bring the noise!
And now the payoff, the culmination that justifies the entire release. At 11:49, “Heat Up Another Planet, Burn Out Another Sun” is clearly the go-to piece. The title seems to indicate environmental collapse, but holds true to the other titles as well, finishing a story of orbital insecurity and eventual disaster. As foreshadowed in the opener, this devastating finale is an all-out drone, like descending into a sunspot. As the timbres thicken, the volume increases and the electronics begin to swirl, one thinks, at last! This may be the end of all things, but if so, what a majestic way to go ~ a dignity that outlasts the destruction like the light from a dead star. (Richard Allen)