Originally released in 2013, Blood Drums wasn't Cavern of Anti-Matter's official debut album -- that honor went to 2016's Void Beats/Invocation Trex -- but at nearly an hour long, it's just as substantial, and in its own way, even more exploratory. Minus the collaborators who joined them on Void Beats, Tim Gane, Joe Dilworth, and Holger Zapf craft transcendent motoriks that range from serene to abrasive. With its writhing synths, dizzying stereo sweeps, and burrowing groove, "You're an Art Soul" remains one of Cavern of Anti-Matter's definitive tracks, while "Acid Death Picnic," "Lament for Cement," and "Hot Electric Insect" confirm their skill with densely experimental music. Elsewhere, the trio gives equal time to its melodic side with "Rotation and Particle Density in D," "Kool Boy Narcosis," and the aptly named "Solar Diamond," a gleaming, gliding track that touches the ecstatic heights Gane and Dilworth reached with Stereolab. Though the kosmische sounds Cavern of Anti-Matter trade in were arguably even more popular in the 2010s than when they originated, they still finds ways to put their own stamp on the style. They balance Blood Drums' longer excursions with snippets of luminous pop ("Irradiated Dream Mouth") and sci-fi spookiness ("Silver Dust") that add variety, while flourishes like the clap-heavy dance-pop beat on "Adventures in One Octave" and the easy listening strings on "Dystopian Shopping Mall" bring some levity to the album as well. When Zapf, Dilworth, and Gane bring these strands together on highlights such as "Sound-Magic's Death Ray Destroys the Vortex and Has Union with Infinity" and "Movin' on Static," the results are some of the most playful and engaging music of their careers. Blood Drums may not be quite as cohesive as what came later, but its sprawling fun is much more than just a precursor to Void Beats/Invocation Trex.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares