The word “epic” gets tossed around these days for everything from Homeric poetry to late-night burritos, so one hesitates to use it for fear it might be taken with a watered-down meaning. I’m at a loss, however, for how else to describe the monumental, otherworldly reality presented in the third installment in a trio of albums from Finnish five-piece Mr. Peter Hayden, Archdimension Now. Comprised of two hyper-extended cosmic drone-doom masterpieces and released as its predecessors were through Kauriala Society, Archdimension Now is simply in a class of its own in terms of its scope. A 2CD, limited-numbers release housed in a sort of gatefold digi-box, its bright orange cover glaring, it is a staggering work and one that lives up to its theme. The Satakunta outfit’s debut, 2010′s Faster than Speed (review here), dealt with the idea of time travel as a transcendent moment, casting off the constraints of the dimension. Their 2012 follow-up, Born a Trip (review here), was a portrayal of leaving form behind, a sort of transitional stretch laid out as a single 68-minute track. With Archdimension Now, we arrive. The title seems to be as much a notation of where as when, and yet, when one makes their way through the 67-minute first disc or the 57-minute second disc of the album, the experience is bound to be one of lost time entirely, so hypnotic and engrossing is the material the band concocts. On the most basic level, Archdimension Now makes Faster than Speed sound like the product of a simpler age, and where Born a Trip still held to some of the structure the first album worked with — wide open as it was — these two parts go beyond it altogether. They’re what’s left after the dimensions are stripped away.
It is a very, very cool concept.
Sound-wise, what Mr. Peter Hayden do is take the claustrophobic elements of post-metal and cosmic doom and turn them on their head. Archdimension Now has stretches of lumbering, noisy weight, to be sure — by about 10 minutes in, the first disc has risen to its first crest — but with the context of the drones and ambience surrounding and within these parts, they’re not oppressive nearly as much as they are life-affirming. And more than these movements of tectonic heft and psychedelic wash, what stands out in listening to Archdimension Now is the sheer impossibility of the audio. That is to say, if Mr. Peter Hayden were to attempt to recreate these pieces — either of them — in a live setting, the sheer nature of the effects barrage, the waves of drone, the crashing drums and the wah-drenched guitars makes it inevitable that they would come across differently. As much as Archdimension Now is intended to be the space outside of time, then, it is also invariably a moment captured within it. I do not know how much if any of it was improvised or built on layers in the studio, but the broad-ranging, volcanic nature of the audio feels like a painting one could never recreate. A long stretch of 40-plus minutes’ atmospherics follows that first push proves to be the heart of the work. They’re not building tension — at least not yet — but exploring an aural space even as they make it. By 35 minutes in, they’ve broken it down to guitar-minimalism backed by progressive keys, and it’s from there that the second-half build of the track begins, so patient and fluid as to be almost undetectable on a minute-by-minute scale, but definitely there when you pull back to look at the larger picture. If the record was less than two hours long, one might almost call it subtle. The final thrust of the first disc has a foundation in a slow drum progression, so there’s something binding it to the earth, but atop that is space rock liquefied into its molten prog elements. Noise, feedback, guitar effects, keys — all come together to provide a fullness of sound, and when the song begins to fade after its 65th minute, and elements start to dissipate, one gets the impression that Mr. Peter Hayden could just as easily have kept going.