Once upon a time, when I was much younger, a lot more naive, I occasionally came across weird little albums that I can only describe as “experimental.” There are a few artists who come to mind: Throbbing Gristle, Master/Slave Relationship, Tangerine Dream, and Stars of the Lid to name a few. To me, there are a few hallmarks that make a music project experimental:

  1. It doesn’t easily fit into any genre or category.
  2. It’s just weird or somewhat difficult to “get.”
  3. Experimental isn’t necessarily musical.

Armageddon Speaking (of Ontario) is a music project that fits into this experimental framework. I was first exposed to them after reviewing Leifendeth’s “Narrow Escapism.” Armageddon Speaking did a fascinating remix of “Not Again” for that EP which stood out as one of the most anomalous and experimental tracks on that release.

Something that really impresses me about Armageddon Speaking is how long it’s been around (in some form). There are fledgling tracks that go all the way back to 2000 back when FL Studio 2.0/3.0 was a thing. And while Armageddon Speaking only formally became much more active around 2014 it can’t be overstated how exciting it is to be able to experience an artist who has been in the electronic scene far before many of us were just a glimmer in its eye. I mean, what the heck were you doing in 2000? I was playing black metal! I digress…

Armageddon Speaking’s latest is entitled “Theory of Time Travel.” It was released on August 14th, 2020.

The cover art for “Theory of Time Travel” is near abstract featuring a blood red color with darker hues of midnight blue that are reminiscent of looking at an infrared universe in reverse. To me, the red color here represents the hidden esoteric energy of vast deep space. In the upper right hand corner I feel as though this represents some sort of planet filled to the brim with life, but devoid of ethics and spirit. Towards the bottom there appears to be some darker writing that reminds me of the One Ring from The Lord of the Rings. I’m pretty sure that’s not what it is though. This album cover is mysterious and cold. It fits in well with what Armageddon Speaking is accomplishing with “Theory of Time Travel.”

In terms of how “Theory of Time Travel” sounds, well, as mentioned before, this is an experimental album. The backbone of this album’s character lies in how un-musical it is. There’s no “beats,” “drops,” “breakdowns,” or “melodies.” There is an overarching theme to this album, however. And it is reprised over and over again in many different forms during the course of the record. This theme serves as the glue that binds “Theory of Time Travel” together filling the gaps between what sometimes feels like near silence with a spacey forward momentum that can only occur in experimental music.

It’s pretty clear that “Theory of Time Travel” wasn’t so much painstakingly composed as it was “captured.” There’s a very modular feel to this album that creates an organic analogue sort of atmosphere that feels good to experience. This is type of album that I could meditate to. It has a calming vibe that takes me to some far-flung nebula when I close my eyes. “Theory of Time Travel” is like listening to a visual artist paint, using each stroke to crawl towards some sort concealed apotheosis that never fully feels resolved. This is an album that accepts the fact that change is one of the indisputable and inevitable existential truths, while arguing that time itself is arbitrary to that process.

Of the tracks available here, I feel that it would be a disservice to Armageddon Speaking’s vision for “Theory of Time Travel” by recommending tracks that stand out here. To me, I feel that “Theory of Time Travel” is best experienced as a whole, rather than five individual tracks. I think that “Theory of Time Travel” has the type of sound that won’t be easily identified as being released in 2020 if someone happens to stumble upon it in the distant future. It has a timeless sound that harkens back to electronic “music” from the late 1970s. In general, when it comes to Armageddon Speaking, I think that their tagline “music from the future,” is accurate. However, I’d reframe it as “Music from the future…as we’re living it.” The genius behind this album isn’t in how it’s constructed, but in how it wasn’t. This is an album full of happy accidents. I don’t think that everyone will love this album as it’s not easy listening, but to for adventurous intellectual types looking for a challenge there’s some real gold to be found here if you give it an honest chance.

STAND-OUT TRACKS: Listen to this from beginning to end. Don’t break this experience up. The entire album is the stand-out track.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Listeners looking for something both relaxing and challenging.

Album Color Profile: #78281F

You can find all things Armageddon Speaking at https://armageddonspeaking.bandcamp.com/

Ötzi is a four-piece postpunk band from Oakland, CA. It features the talents of Akiko Sampson (bass, lead vocals), Gina Marie (drums, vocals), K. Dylan Edrich (guitars), and Winter Zora (keyboards).

“Storm” is Ötzi’s second full-length album closely following on the heels of their amazing debut “Ghosts” which was released in 2017. I can best describe the sound of “Storm” as a mashup of postpunk vibes from the 1980s that is reminiscent of Eva O, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and Joy Division. There is also a slight 1990s vibe to the overall sound Ötzi present that feels somewhat to me like The Cranberries. This especially shines through in “Hold Still,” which is the least dark sounding song, at least to me, on “Storm.” Even the chorus is giving me flashbacks to The Cranberries “No Need to Argue.” This is really cool considering that the overall sound of “Storm” focuses more on the decade before:

“I see the ocean in your eyes
I’m reaching for you
Tears reflecting darker skies
I’m all around you
I reach up to touch the ground
I’m here beside you
I feel the earth spin me around
I hold still for you”

Every member Ötzi plays their part in engineering an atmosphere that can undoubtedly be re-created in a live setting. Production wise, the most notable thing is how upfront the bass guitar tends to be. And while it’s not uncommon for this type to have the bass guitar so up front in the mix it never ceases to sound fresh and exciting. The guitars range from droning sustained notes to chorus leaden melodies which work together with the rest of the band. The drum work is energetic, acoustic, and real as all hell. Akiko’s vocals are frantic, emotional, and present. My head cannon for this album pictures Ötzi recording this album live and in one take.

“Scorpio” stands out to me as the most distinguishable track off of “Storm.” The saxaphone was somewhat unexpected, but it just screams at you to get up and dance. Akiko’s best vocal performance also shows up here. Who thought yelling “I love you,” over and over again could be so catchy? I could see this song in a movie about someone trying to deal with a drug problem spiraling out of control.

I don’t often get an opportunity to review actual bands. In the age of the laptop producer they are something of a novelty. There’s just something special about four individuals coming together in order to create something. I don’t often come across a collective piece of art as good as “Storm.” If you’re into 80s postpunk, get on this album immediately. Your playlist will love you for it.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Fans of 80s postpunk (aka people who like good music).

Stand-Out Tracks: “Scorpio,” “Eight Cups,” and “Moths.”

Album Color Profile: #78281F

You can find all things Ötzi at https://otzi.bandcamp.com/