This Empty Flow

Nowafter

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Dark, infectious trip-hop beats kick off "Je(n!)i Force," the first track off Nowafter, the electronic, indie/goth-laced new collection from This Empty Flow. Akin to Portishead, Massive Attack, or something far more sinister, this tune stifles the listener with its scientifically crafted blend of bleak pop wisdom. Judging from this band's previous output, including their days as the esoteric doom act Thergothon, this collection of unreleased and remastered rare tracks pries open a whole new realm of unexplored musical territory for the band. Nowhere encapsulates the listener in the varied atmospheres of Pink Floyd, the Cure, older Porcupine Tree, trip-hop, early Lou Reed, the Gathering, and most especially Radiohead. Similar to the effect the Beatles had on the '60s, it seems Radiohead's genius has permeated into every genre of music in the '90s and beyond, helping bands construct and deconstruct music in inventive new ways. Every song seems to flow from a different dark stream, much the same as newer Beyond Dawn, the Gathering, Porcupine Tree, or (again) Radiohead, making for a diverse and engaging listen. Speaking of Porcupine Tree, certain songs and elements on Nowafter, owe big to P. Tree's modern masterpiece Sky Moves Sideways, as well as any '80s-style Cure dark wave album. These include the gentle "Rebuilt Passage," the dreamy "Angel's Playground," and the haunting "Of Blossom and Decay." "One Song About Solitude" is one of the bleakest, dark goth tunes ever recorded, with its ceaseless keyboard drone constantly fighting with the Robert Smith meets Jonas Renske (Katatonia) vocals. If you love the Cure and miss their darker days, then prepare your palette -- tracks like "Hunger" or "Dubby" ache of Robert Smith and the gang's tortured anguish. On the other hand, songs like "Marmite" or "Shoreditch" drip with dark pop, psychedelic sensibility, floating over entrancing, electronic grooves and Thom Yorke/Roger Waters yearning. Nowafter is diverse, brilliant, and near impossible to classify. The music still carries the ambient qualities the band is known for, but the music has bridged to other islands of influence. Luckily for the listener, This Empty Flow has furloughed with some of the finest, most wide-arrayed musicians in recent history. Highly recommended to those who love their music bleak, weary, intelligent, and full of creativity and honesty.

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