The Helio Sequence

Com Plex

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From the quiet confines of Portland suburb Beaverton, one doesn't expect an explosion of blistering ambience to emerge, but that is precisely what the debut album from the Helio Sequence creates. Following a self-released EP, Brandon Summers and Benjamin Weikel holed up in the one room music store from which both collect their regular paychecks and returned with this lovely, challenging full-length, engineered, produced, mixed, and mastered by the duo themselves. With Summers playing guitar and singing and Weikel handling the drums as well as the sequenced keyboards and samplers, Com Plex lives up to its name, an ambitious and amorphous concoction. The music is frequently surreal, as recognizable sounds warp into unshapely ones, and it reflects back at itself creating spectacular mechanistic feedback. "Stacenska 612," for instance, is a spooky web of futuristic ambience, and the vocals, doubled and whispered, tusseling and intertwined like vines, come across like the voices inside your head. It is not exactly the wall of glorious caterwaul that My Bloody Valentine created, nor the austere moonscapes of Pink Floyd, although both bands are decided influences. Interestingly enough, the band that the Helio Sequence most recall insinuate in an odd way is mid-period Beatles. They execute an incredible cover of the psychedelic touchstone, "Tomorrow Never Knows," that might be closer to the way John Lennon heard it in his head than even the Beatles ended up recording, maintaining the paranoid low-end and splayed Chemical Brothers-style percussion, but turning the tripped-out ambience of LSD-based spiritual searching into the much more untidy and bewildering jungle that it is in reality. The entirety of Com Plex works off this template, but never in the obvious ways that many Beatles-loving pop bands tend to. But it is also not really appropriate to call the Helio Sequence Beatlesesque, and Com Plex ultimately doesn't have the vast scope of an album like Revolver or My Bloody Valentine's Loveless. It doesn't show a large degree of variety, but it does intimate potentially vast possibilities, which makes it an arresting first effort.

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