The remnants of dreamt images dissolve slowly, echoing gently as they depart. My eyes flick open as I “Awaken” to blinding bursts of fractured light. Blinking rapidly to clear my distorted vision I hear the muted tinkling of glass that woke me, before I see the shards falling to the ground. He is near, approaching fast. Bursting into the doorframe, he launches his attack.
This is the place where Uneven Structure’s debut, Februus, opens; the beginning of an emotive journey into sound. Everything from the sublimely cosmic album artwork (a bridge of distinctly alien design before a night’s sky spitting stars at an aurora borealis) to the cascading string-work and exploding snare shots screams its heart and soul at you. Another band to be pigeon-holed as “djent” and filed next to its brethren, or one with an individual voice? Just as this French sextet have tried hard not to become the former, it seems only fair that this review should not ape its kind. Please join me in thinking outside the box, back where I started, eyes closed, lost inside a stream of consciousness.
The rising panic I once felt is dying as the urging roars invigorate before they dissipate into a choir of harmonics beckoning me within. Startled, I realise the shattered pane of glass is whole once more. Heavy footsteps fall. The temperature drops; exhalations form clouds. “Frost” appears, growing like cracks across the mirrored surface of the glass and I stare into the reflection of an avalanche of snow, rhythmically tumbling and turning. The collapsing mountain swallows me whole and darkness falls as my ears fill, leaving behind a deep, syncopated boom; felt only as a numbing vibration.
Shapes form, thunder rumbles and I find myself cast adrift in space; rotating slowly; oblivious to either time passing or the presence of natural reflexive respiratory breathing. I gape open-mouthed as diamond-white galaxies and shape-shifting, intensely-coloured nebulae are revealed in all their luxuriant glory. This is “Exmersion” where space ripples from the pulsating heart of a red-hot sun. Solar flares fling themselves outwards, rebounding back as coronal loops; ejections that bring strong solar winds thrusting me backwards kicking and screaming. “Awe” hits and, with an explosive burst, I fall into a boiling ocean.
Sinking fast, I make out murky configurations in the deep. Vast, bellowing beasts are challenged by soothing siren song; a chiming, clanging wall of ethereal sound; a loose ambient wash that whirls to create vortices. The aural conflict creates rips in the current, pressures increase, water floods inside and the motion tears my body apart until there is nothing but a pointless and agonising “Limbo”. Vaguely perceptible, arrhythmic pops are all that remain to help me realise life goes on.
“Plenitude” kick-starts my heart with the beat of tribal drums and I see fire. Figures dance before me, snaking into impossible shapes, casting shadows. The cave walls flicker back in time causing the reflected phantoms to pulsate as the rhythm shrinks and swells. A smile splits my visage and I throw myself sharply into motion – what a “Finale”.
Okay. Open your eyes, you’re back in the room. My Spidey sense tells me you’d like an accompanying straight-up summary of my findings.
Well, many of you are going to be thrilled to hear that Uneven Structure inhabit the same ambient world that TesseracT and Chimp Spanner belong to but, instead of creating precise structures by filtering out any background thrum, they build upon it, wallowing deep in the extra dimension of spatial awareness that it offers, which brings them within jetpacking distance of both No Made Sense’s mile-wide layering and The Contortionist’s polyrhythmic heft. However, above all, the recklessly progressive scars they carve across their music helps define them as fearless, forward-thinking individuals. This is why you could do a lot worse than get lost in their music like I have.