On their second album with stalwart experimental label Kranky, Chicago’s Implodes eagerly connect to, and grow from, their past. The swarming, ritualistic “Wendy” stood tall on 2011’s Black Earth, and now, Recurring Dreams opens with its sequel in “Wendy 2″. The progress and influence from that song extends throughout, the frequently sprawling, buzzing pieces walking their own line between post-rock, electronic ambience, and shoegaze. The album feels like an honest expression of a band’s moment, with everything expanding organically rather than forced onto a path.
After reintroducing the listener to the wiles of “Wendy”, Implodes dive right into the squared synths and lumpy rhythm section of “Scattered in the Wind”. The title fits, the melody and vocals rippling like torn flags between gales of reverb-laden noise. Later, “Ex Mass” takes a reeling, downtempo Sonic Youth sneer, but fills the space where a caterwauling guitar noise solo would go with gothic ’80s synth tones.
Matt Jencik and Ken Camden fill the disc with copious purple atmospherics, their bruised, smoky guitars permeating the room. The album is at its strongest when it gives the compositions room to fully breathe that in, to pull it into its core and expel it back into your ears. Brief instrumental interludes like “Dream Mirror” often feel like nothing more than outros or intros cut off of the tracks they abut.
If Implodes are looking for their next sequel, they could do a lot worse than jumping off of “Scattered in the Wind” or late track “Prisms and the Nature of Light”. The addition of Emily Elhaj’s angelic vocals and delayed acoustic strumming gives the haunted forest a Grouper-esque quality, though the growth of buzzing synth weeds ends things on an ominous note. While the album hits great heights, its scattered influences and sounds would suggest it’s reasonable to wonder which track will get the “2” added to it on the next disc.
Essential Tracks: “Scattered in the Wind”, “Ex Mass”, and “Prisms and the Nature of Light”