C V L T S

Realiser

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    7
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AllMusic Review by

Finding their legs in the basements of the Midwest before making their way to Los Angeles, leaving behind a trail of waterlogged cassette-only releases, the eternally hazy C V L T S worked their way up to the only sometimes crystallizing sounds of Realiser. Existing as much as a vague but persistent online presence as a band focused on live performance, the relative shroud of mystery and uncertainty that surrounds the group is reflected perfectly in the 11 sheets of ambient pop offered up on Realiser. Gentle, seemingly improvised synth fragments like "Time Debt II" and "Freecasting" lope across the horizon murkily, burying dully compressed, lower-fidelity keyboard tones and treated guitar figures deep under druggy layers. More distorted moments like the abrasive tape manipulation of "Velvet Dreams" bring to mind contemporaries like Rene Hell or the bitcrushed shoegaze of Jefre Cantu. The album is made up mostly of these narcotic instrumentals, taking cues from the indie surf revival, chillwave, dream pop, and the 100% Silk roster of lo-fi disco, only without their overtly funky rhythmic elements. Only two tracks feature vocals, and even then, the voices are submerged deeper than the rest of the already obscured elements. "Sandstone Retreat" is a twilight rumination between two overblown guitar loops and vocals swimming in delay, where "Brahma Weapons" offers the album's most clearheaded moment with a wistfully melodic Krautrock groove that recalls the snap of rhythm among a sea of noise that happened at the heights of Cryptograms-era Deerhunter. While the washy tones and sometimes undercooked sound sketches sometimes threaten to absentmindedly forget themselves, their narcotic atmospheres and slippery moments of clarity sound better with repeated listens. The dense layers of subaquatic synths and guitars eventually gel into their own womb-like language, and once it makes sense, Realiser is a difficult place to leave.

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