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Excepter - Throne

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Artist: Excepter

Album: Throne

Label: Load

Review date: Jul. 6, 2005

Most of the discussion surrounding Brooklyn's Excepter deals less with their accomplishments as a band and more with their figurative similarities to DMT - out of body, out of mind, and outside any generally recognized and easily limited categories of what constitutes certain types of music (Noise? Electronic? Psychedelia?). This ambiguity is definitely one way of looking at things. Quoth Terrence McKenna with regards to the DMT experience: "The world becomes an Arabian labyrinth, a palace, a more than possible Martian jewel, vast with motifs that flood the gaping mind with complex and wordless awe. Color, and the sense of a reality-unlocking secret nearby pervade the experience. There is a sense of other times, and of one's own infancy, and of wonder, wonder, and more wonder. It is an audience with the alien nuncio." And to quote Justin Farrar with regards to the Excepter experience… well, see for yourself. The drug and the band, it would seem, make excellent psychonautical bedfellows.

Excepter pull sound from a variety of sources and impulses. The end result is deceptively simple in execution (keys, vocals, guitar, synths, samples, drum machines) and yet littered with signposts that may or may not be both intentional and accurate. Maybe parts of it are skeletal dubs, dance beats stretched to infinity and then folded back on themselves, or mellifluous psych drones emanating from the spheres. Then again, maybe not. It's a prism through which a variety of sounds are refracted. How you hear it depends on where you might be standing at a given moment.

Throne is Excepter's second full-length disc, offering a more succinct treatise on the sounds and textures that the quintet mined for their early singles and full-lengths. "Jrone (Three)" and "Jrone (Two)," the companion pieces that start the album, take a slow-motion tour through syrupy synth burbles, a pulsating throb of low end, and increasingly forceful drum machines. Caitlin Cook's vaporous vocals carry the opener with ample breath, an effervescent fractal that gets left behind as the hums and hi-hats become more insistent in the second track. The end result can fall anywhere from the soundtrack work of folks like Goblin (or Tobe Hooper and Wayne Bell's music for the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre), possibly some eviscerated Lee Perry, or maybe even a curious analogue to Throbbing Gristle, albeit one not as nearly devoted to shock tactics.

"The Heart Beat" winds down the massive, off-kilter rhythms that established themselves so fervently in the first half of the album. If Royal Trux had bad trips instead of junkie nightmares, Twin Infinitives could have ended up this malevolent, as opposed to just warped and abused. "(The Ass)" ends the record with a parenthetical, scrambled transmissions from solar flares that commune with the odd birdsong recording over the final 30 minutes. Where Excepter expects the listener to end up is anyone's guess, really. The disorienting effect that the pieces ultimately have seems to come mostly from the equal push and pull exhibited by the variety of stylistic nods that occasionally peak their heads out from the muck - rhythm takes the lead momentarily, only to be supplanted by low-end destruction, again to be overtaken by psychedelic wanderings and a heady desire for communion with the third eye. Phrases come back around again, only slightly altered, over and over and over - teasing with a moment of familiarity before plunging back into the abyss.

That a band can confound as consistently as Excepter is both remarkable and admirable. That they sound damn fine in the process is doubly so. The only consistent element, the one unifying factor that hovers over this record is a dark, ominous cloud that could burst at any moment. But the band never yields to the temptation. Rather, they float on that tension. Maybe, then, Excepter is closer to DPT, the wholly synthesized "demon molecule" cousin to DMTs naturally occurring "spirit." Darkness, visible and audible, endlessly returning in a sickening, closed loop.

By Michael Crumsho

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