Implodes- Reverser

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Chicago’s Implodes is a band I hadn’t come across before now, but their sound is one that I found instantly appealing. My first exposure to their music comes courtesy of Gilead Media, who is putting out the Reverser EP on vinyl. Reverser contains two songs from the same sessions as 2013’s Recurring Dreams and two newly recorded tracks, but this isn’t obvious when listening as they all flow together perfectly. You’re likely to see Implodes labeled with the shoegaze tag, and while that makes it easy to assume what this EP has to offer this group is able to offer so much more than the usual fuzziness and buried vocals.

Stylistically Reverser falls somewhere between traditional shoegaze and spaced out psych rock, with opener “Out of Reach” heading in more of a drone and dark folk direction. This piece is what initially threw me for a loop when I started listening, as I’ve become so used to anything labeled as “shoegaze” starting off with that dense level of distortion. It’s a powerful way to start off Reverser and the band does a fantastic job of utilizing sparser melodies that have expand slowly and draw the listener in with a more somber, dreary sound. Once “Lady Skull” kicks in things become a bit more familiar, as the waves of distortion crash against the guitar melodies to create that thicker sound that completely envelops you while listening. But even when the songs head towards more familiar territory, Implodes avoids simply rehashing the same ideas that just about every band these days seems to be going for. Their instrumentation is a bit slower and spaced out, letting the noise level rise and fall naturally to add extra flourishes of atmosphere. What I found most interesting was how the material is able to represent two completely different moods over the course of four songs. Both “Out of Reach” and the title track have a much more somber, darker sound to them, while the other two arrangements shift things over to a warm and inviting sound that gives a feeling of serenity. It gives Reverser even more of an emotional impact, and that’s a reason that this EP is worth returning to.

It isn’t uncommon for bands in this genre to completely bury their vocals, forcing the listener to navigate through layers of distortion. While I still like this style when done correctly, the sheer number of groups utilizing it in recent memory has made a lot of the performances blur together, so I was happy to find that Implodes lets their vocals stand front and center. There’s a good deal of separation between the instrumental work and the singing, letting both elements grab your attention equally. The main pitch is a softer one that rises and falls along with the instrumentals, and the words often feel like they are floating above the layers of distortion, tempting the listener to dive in and explore further. Implodes singer also matches the mood perfectly, as on “Out of Reach” the vocals sounds wistful to me, but they brightened up as the instrumentation shifted towards that direction on the other songs.

Reverser may be my first time giving Implodes a listen, but they’ve left a very strong impression. It’d be easy to simply lump this one under the shoegaze category, but I don’t feel like that’d be fully doing it justice. Underneath some of the familiar distortion and haziness there are elements that hint at drone, dark folk, and even more traditional psych rock at its more sprawled out point. Despite the fact that half of the songs were written at different points they flow together seamlessly, making Reverser sound like a proper body of work rather than a collection of B-sides. This is a release I plan on spending additional time with in the coming months to fully explore all of its textures, and it looks like I have yet another back catalog to dive into.

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