The Laconic’s music felt very close to my heart, mostly because it’s a formula I’ve personally dabbled with for a long while, without much success. Instrumental music is insanely challenging to pull off. Even the markets of illustrious post-rock and progressive music have been slowly moving to the side or at least changing their skins entirely to cope with a more diverse set of demands from the listeners. Gone (almost) are the days of 10-minute guitar solos, or sprawling post-rock anthems that stretch as far as the eyes can see, now is the time for instant gratification, and short-lived euphoria, which makes The Laconic’s release even more insanely challenging.
The Chicago-based late bloomer Mark Pelath is the sole man responsible for The Laconic’s music. A musician, a data scientist, and a builder of his own guitars and synths, Integrals is his debut album. Integrals aren’t prog or post-rock. It doesn’t have philosophical musings. It doesn’t have iconic guitar solos. It doesn’t have grandiose atmospheres drenched in dramatic reverbs. What Integrals attempt to do is in fact, even more challenging. An album of “instrumental songs”. Those pieces, Mark says, have melodies and harmonies, just like songs do, just no lyrics, and no great technical fireworks, because, in his own words, he’s not that technical.
Integral is 8 songs long. a common thread that binds them all together and is an amazing, pristine production. A cohesive sense of industrial music permeates the atmosphere through the overdriven, punchy basslines, the steady consistent drumbeats, and the antiseptic, sharp conciseness of the synth leads. There’s much more thrown into the mix that unfortunately falls flat. The melodies require a squint to figure out, mostly built on simple pentatonic up-and-down climbs. While some sound snaky, intricate, and interesting, others are overly simplistic, and simply don’t serve the underlying harmonies. There’s something to say about the interplay between layers of synths and bass, like on Anthem and DBS. Integral has a beautiful vibe, with a booming bass and an expansive drum sound. The 9/8 time signature is executed brilliantly and the interplay between all the instrumental layers was seriously inviting. Sietch is a glitchy, scratchy number with uber-harsh-sounding synths and a properly industrial drum sound. Stiff, and drenched in reverb. Tensor is dancy and intricate, bordering on funk, but with confusing, writhing leads, it lands somewhere far away. The atmospheres of Tensors with intoxicating and hypnotic.