One aspect of an instrumental album that I anticipate is the way that the music alone has to capture you. Nothing else. You as an artist don’t have the ability to substitute lyrics and vocal hooks for instrumentation that isn’t engaging. The challenge to diversify your tools as a musician or band is greatly increased, and deserves more respect than the seemingly lacklustre title of “instrumental”. I like to think of this style of music as situational – in that if you align your surrounds (your physical atmosphere, creative senses or emotions) you can become involved with something that transcends listening to music. While this style of circumstantial music isn’t on everyone’s playlist, the idea of an artist writing this music with just a bass guitar and the ambient recordings from their phone should certainly grab your attention.
The debut album from Evo-Cactus is four tracks that loop together in a 41 minute string of sounds and concepts, recorded in a basement on a side-project budget (available to listen on SoundCloud). The opening song features dual bass guitars, and the fuzz on the bass sounds like it was stolen right off the touring bus for Puscifier. The second song on the playlist sounds like an ode to the mellow, rumbling sound of early nineties ominous stoner rock – a genre of music easy to imitate and hard to play truthfully. The third song “In Ashes We Dream” has a more upfront and trance metal repetitiveness, something fans of Acid King (think “Zoroaster”) will appreciate for the simplicity.
Then, when you are tranced to the last song, do you get to experience something really special. The last track “Calming of the Storm” is the conclusion of your journey. I am a devoted fan to the peace and sublime calm that ambient sounds can put you under, and when you mix that atmosphere with running bass you have me wrapped in a bundle. In my opinion, this sounds like a demo recording that Justin Chancellor (Tool, Peach) would have taken with him in his early immersion into one of the most popular progressive metal bands in history. The surrealism and tone that is conveyed is matched perfectly, in my opinion, to the atmospheric noise you would imagine in a science fictional, post-apocalyptic novel. That is the situation I envision this album would embrace – just imagine reading something like “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” or “Nineteen Eighty-Four”.
So, while this album isn’t something you would want to hear played at a live gig at a pub, it isn’t supposed to be! Not all music has to be slapped out by a band every week. This is an album that you put on, pour yourself a nice long glass of chill-the-shit-out, and relax until you can barely pull yourself away from a good book and the beanbag you now consider a part of your person. Appreciate your own ‘Garden of Eden’ and don’t stare too long into your lava lamp.