Review & Full LP Premiere: Sons of Alpha Centauri, Buried Memories

Posted in audiObelisk on October 8th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

SONS OF ALPHA CENTAURI Buried Memories Cover

[Click play above to stream Sons of Alpha Centauri’s Buried Memories in full. It’s out Friday and available to order here.]

UK progressive instrumentalists Sons of Alpha Centauri will release the new LP Buried Memories on Oct. 13 through H42 Records, and it’s an offering that immediately begs inspection. Is it an album or a collaboration? An EP, since the first side is three different versions of the same track? As the follow-up to the band’s 2018 outing, Continuum (review here) — which was essentially the band on their own, even if they did work with Aaron Turner (Sumac, ex-Isis) as producer/mixer and John McBain (ex-Monster Magnet) for mastering — it continues a string of joined-f0rces efforts that goes back to their 2009 outing with Karma to Burn side-project Treasure Cat, which included tracks by Alpha Cat with both bands working together. Along the way, in addition to their 2007 self-titled debut (discussed here) and Continuum some 11 years later, they’ve also worked with Gary Arce of Yawning Man as Yawning Sons for the 2009 album, Ceremony to the Sunset (review here), and had a trilogy of splits with Karma to Burn (2010, 2014, 2015) as well as splits with A Death Cinematic and Hotel Wrecking City Traders/WaterWays (review here) in 2010 and 2012, respectively.

All of this, as one might expect, has made them somewhat hard to track, as they’re in and out of different incarnations and collaborations, but I think the band probably wouldn’t have it another way, and Buried Memories shows some of where that impulse comes from. The six-track/47-minute 12″ dwells in its complication no less than it dwells in instrumentalists depth and purpose, and I should point out right away that while “Hitmen” is the first three songs, not one version is immediately recognizable from the others. And that’s doubly to Sons of Alpha Centauri‘s credit, because it shows how much they’re willing to let their material be malleable. You see, each half of Buried Memories is dedicated to an outside mix collaboration. For “Hitmen,” they bring in three different incarnations of Godflesh‘s Justin K. Broadrick, who takes the song on first under the guise of himself, then as Jesu and finally as JK Flesh, bringing a distinctly different feel to each edition of the same root work. It’s perhaps easier to do since the songs don’t have verses or choruses weighing them down to a strict structure, but it’s true that each one carves its own impression, and as they move from eight-and-a-half, nine- and nine-and-a-half-minute versions, Broadrick seems to pull the track further from its foundation and bring something of his own to it. It’s not just a simple process of mixing in the sense of finding the right volume for Marlon King‘s guitar or Blake‘s synth, Nick Hannon‘s bass and Stevie B.‘s drums, but of exploring what distance “Hitmen” can cover from its origin. As the Broadrick mix turns to the more melodic Jesu mix to the avant-electro JK Flesh mix, that distance turns out to be pretty vast.

The second-side collaborator is no less than James Plotkin, whose mastering and production work covers myriad outfits and whose work in Khanate alone — never mind his copious other projects — deserves an eternity of thank-you cards, who takes on three different songs, all under the guise of himself. So side A, one song mixed by three versions of the same person. Side AA, three songs mixed by one version of the same person.

Everyone got it?

Okay.

Sons of Alpha Centauri 2019

And much to Plotkin‘s credit, the three inclusions he takes on also push further and further out as they go. “Warhero” (9:33) is relatively straight ahead, but in comparison to Broadrick‘s “Hitmen” shows a focus on bringing out a sense of space in the work, while the shorter “Remembrance” (2:42) dips into minimalist drone guitar almost as a transition into closer “SS Montgomery,” which also takes on a more electronic vibe, in a kind of dark-industrial vein that still holds a heavy presence thanks to the prominence of the live drums, but nonetheless surrounds those with a chaos-swirl of synth and the guitar. “SS Montgomery” is the payoff for the whole release, pushing through clarity toward destructive noise wash in its quick apex and leaving behind residual noise on a long outward fade, and the fact that even given all the shifts of style and intent that Buried Memories holds, Sons of Alpha Centauri would be able to pull everything together at the end speaks to what makes them so underrated in the first place. They are very much a conceptual outfit but still not blind to the basic purpose of making an album, of making songs.

That underlying message comes through clearly across Buried Memories, and whether you consider it an album, an EP, a one-off, or something else, there’s never any doubt Sons of Alpha Centauri are ready and willing to push themselves to take their music to new places and to try and encompass different ideas and evoke various mindsets as they go. It’s not every band who would be willing to hand off their material like this, even to the likes of Plotkin and Broadrick, let alone put it out in such a way that allows the tracks to take on a life of their own within their overarching catalog. I won’t pretend to know what Sons of Alpha Centauri might do next or where they’ll go from here — though they were certainly busy enough in between, it’s notable that it was 11 years from their self-titled to Continuum — but the way their progressiveness extends not only to the sound of the band but to the very makeup and intent thereof continues to make them individually flexible in a universe that seems rigid by comparison. Whatever they might do, this openness and dexterity can only continue to bolster their work. Imagine asking Justin Broadrick for three mixes by different personae. Imagine telling James Plotkin, “Just go with it.” The beauty of Buried Memories is in its outward movement and the sense of freedom it portrays: art as a living thing, music as sculpting clay to be shaped and re-shaped. As regards the creative, there are few ideas more noble.

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Sons of Alpha Centauri Announce Buried Memories Collaborative LP with JK Broadrick & James Plotkin

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 20th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Sons of Alpha Centauri 2019

You have to give it to Sons of Alpha Centauri: they keep good company. These are gentlemen of refined taste. Their last album? Produced by Aaron Harris of Isis and mastered by John McBain, formerly of Monster Magnet. Before that, oh, they’d worked with the likes of Gary Arce and Karma to Burn, and so on, producing killer splits and collaborative offerings in the process. Now? They’ve got a kinda-EP/kinda-LP called Buried Memories coming that has four songs total — one is a revisit of a song from their first record — with mixes by Justin Broadrick, who does three different versions of “Hitmen” in various guises as Justin K. Broadrick, JK Flesh and Jesu, and James Plotkin, who’s only James Plotkin throughout but when you played in Khanate that’s enough as far as I’m concerned. Sons of Alpha Centauri‘s sense of sonic adventurousness continues to extend to a meta level, and if you’re not intrigued to hear this, you probably just haven’t paid enough attention. Snap to it.

It doesn’t actually say so below, but the press kit lists Oct. 13 as the release date through H42 Records, so let’s go with that. They’ve got a quick teaser posted as well, and you’ll find that at the bottom of the post, along with the stream of 2018’s Continuum (review here). Enjoy:

SONS OF ALPHA CENTAURI Buried Memories Cover

H42 Records: SONS OF ALPHA CENTAURI Announce New Album with JK BROADRICK and JAMES PLOTKIN!

Sons of Alpha Centauri are back to release Buried Memories, a collaborative post metal colossus and the second part of the journey that started with last album Continuum!

The new album Buried Memories has been mixed by industrial metal icon Justin K. Broadrick (Godflesh, Jesu…) and ambient gloom metal maestro James Plotkin (Khanate, Jodis etc.). Buried Memories contains two 10 minute slabs of eclectic ambient progressive rock and a series of interpretative remixes of the theme tracks by both Broadrick and Plotkin.

Justin Broadrick collaborates with the band on side A through the progressive riff saga of Hitmen which he has mixed and also provided two remixes in his guise as Jesu and another as the eponymous JK Flesh. These three staggering pieces of music elapse over 27 minutes of pure instrumental voyage in a way only Sons of Alpha Centauri and Justin Broadrick could deliver!

James Plotkin and SOAC collaborate through several tracks including Warhero a sprawling 10 minute odyssey and a masterful remix of SS Montgomery – the single from the bands classic instrumental landmark debut album.

After entering the Continuum (2018) the listener must now bury their memories. The darkness will envelope the listeners in this second part of their epic sprawling progressive dark rock saga.

The LP version of Buried Memories comes on a selection of 180 gram heavyweight colored vinyl in a gatefold sleeve with photo inlay and download code.

Tracklist
1. Hitmen [Justin K. Broadrick Mix]
2. Hitmen [Jesu Remix]
3. Hitmen [JK Flesh Remix]
4. Warhero [James Plotkin Mix]
5. Remembrance [James Plotkin Mix]
6. SS Montgomery [James Plotkin Remix]

https://www.facebook.com/sonsofalphacentauri
https://sonsofalphacentauri.bandcamp.com/
http://www.sonsofalphacentauri.co.uk/
https://www.h42records.com

Sons of Alpha Centauri, Buried Memories teaser

Sons of Alpha Centauri, Continuum (2018)

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