“The Synaesthetic Picture Show Now Playing, Part 5” by Elektragaaz

The Synaesthetic Picture Show Now Playing, Part 5 is the latest EP from one of the most unique musical units working today. Elektragaaz’s six track collection opens with the song “Beyond the Final Veil” and may lead listeners, particularly newcomers, to think it’s the first salvo in a techno/club release. The band’s instrumental music comes off like they are possessed. “Beyond the Final Veil” has an assertive battering ram quality. It doesn’t mean it’s without a light touch, there’s careful layering heard throughout the cut, but its essential core is aflame from beginning to end. It’s a kickass opener.

Elektragaaz is as much an idea as a band. Founded by the reclusive and somewhat mysterious Poppo Redband who serves as the band’s composer, the players are a continued intermingling of fact and fiction, music and theatre, furthered deepened by a bevy of influences extending far past other bands or solo artists. Film, comics, gaming, dance, pop, rock, and countless other cultural forces collide in the band’s music producing often unpredictable results. They’re always compelling, however.

They’re always musical too. Classical influences abound, for instance, during the EP finale “Daybreak and Déjà Vu”. They never maintain their prominence for long, however, as recurring guitar lines, invariably synth-layered, cut through the mix. It’s one of the more thoughtful and deliberate moments on an EP with a physical edge as well and the earlier “October’s Child” shares a similar trajectory. Each listener will hear different things in these songs, like any other, and the slightly carnivalesque feel of this song even has exotic qualities some listeners will deem their favorite. Melody is much stronger here than in other songs and the presence of trumpet adds memorable color.

“Manhunter” is much more guitar-driven than the other songs. It doesn’t mean that it casts some sort of pallor over the other five cuts, but each of the EP’s songs has differences from its predecessor, some slight while others are pronounced, and “Manhunter” represents another twist. Its gritty techno attack owes a lot of rock, as well, and will likely be one of the EP’s immediately popular numbers. The EP opener “Behind the Final Veil” isn’t quite as ferocious, but it isn’t far behind. I might have flipped this track with the aforementioned “Manhunter” in the running order, but I understand why they set the release up like they do.

“Sebastian’s Cat”, for me, is the EP’s greatest accomplishment. I write this because it brings together the best of the aforementioned sides together into the band’s most ambitious effort while bringing listeners along with them. Straddling the line between substantive achievement and accessibility in popular music of any kind is a difficult to order to fulfill and Elektragaaz does it. This represents the zenith of those efforts. They are far from finished, however. This is the latest peak in their climb, but there are higher peaks to come. There isn’t anything this multi-faceted creative enterprise can’t do and I am sure they will fully explore whatever direction they take.

Rachel Townsend

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