Turning a new LP on the heels of 2018’s Continuum, English post-rock outfit Sons of Alpha Centauri flex their collaborative muscles partnering with the heavy electronics programming of Earache Records-alumni Justin Broadrick (Godflesh, Jesu, Scorn) and James Plotkin (Khanate, OLD) on Buried Memories (pre-order now here).
Mostly a reclusive band (less than 20 gigs played live), SoAC has worked the collaborative angle to make a name for themselves in the heavy rock world throughout their 18-year history with credits alongside Karma to Burn, along with forming a sister project with Gary Arce (Yawning Man) called Yawning Sons. Buried Memories is a different album from their past work; It’s heavy on the electronic side with less riffing and sees SoAC play somewhat of a supporting role to the two featured producers. If this is the angle they want, it shows how comfortable the group is in pushing their limits, not to mention the confidence they exude with outside players working in their world.
If you’re familiar with SoAC’s past work, you’ll recognize Side A and B’s lead-off tracks sounding the most like the band’s songwriting, only with minimal touches by the producers. Broadrick’s world is brought in on Side A under the guises of his legal name, Jesu, and JK Flesh. The three tracks making up Side A become more melancholic and bleak as they progress throughout the side’s 26 minutes. “Hitmen (Jesu Remix)” is when things get very interesting and cold-sounding. The composition departs from its original riff state into a brooding sound layered with droning synth work layered with keys. It becomes an instrumental you’d hear over a panning shot of a desolate-looking cityscape or a walkthrough of Dante Alighieri’s “The Divine Comedy.” “Hitmen (JK Flesh Remix)” holds the darkest vibe as cold-feeling synthesizers layer over irregular heart-beat like percussion, playing out as a soundtrack to a subterranean area below the cityscape as mentioned earlier.
Check out the Buried Memories album trailer here:
Side B strays away from the melancholy and into harder edge ambient territory with SoAC handing mixing control over to James Plotkin. Spoiler alert: it’s not any brighter or joyful sounding. Plotkin’s mix of “Warhero” adds more crunch to the guitars and drums while “Remembrance” plays out like an instrumental for a horror movie. Plotkin’s remix of the track “SS Montgomery” (originally featured as “23” on SoAC’s 2007 debut S/T LP) thins out the guitar mix and thickens the bass and drums as the dominating instruments.
Mixing heavy and electronic music is a time tested combination that presents interesting angles on an artist’s original work (1000 Homo DJs recreation of Black Sabbath’s “Supernaut” comes to mind). Buried Memories is a very different side to Sons of Alpha Centauri, one that could appeal to fans of as Jesu, Year of No Light, and DDENT. More importantly, these reworks are designed to be experienced in full, from start to finish, to enjoy the complete effect and atmosphere of the music; patience is your virtue here and well worth the effort.