The Third Eye Foundation

The Dark

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Having retired the Third Eye Foundation name to concentrate on a series of albums and releases in a singer/songwriter vein, albeit one darkly shaded, Matt Elliott's return to the Third Eye Foundation seemed initially like a bit of a surprise. But in the same way that he tapped into a feeling of murk and looming dread from the start in the context of mid-'90s hip-hop and jungle, on The Dark Elliott arguably returns to where he's often been at his best -- observing the changes in extreme sonics in a scene and offering his own derivations on the approach. With dubstep now long established as a new reference point -- and both dub and jungle itself going through sorts of renaissances on the English musical scene as well -- The Dark simultaneously nods toward all this and continues Elliott's own obsessive aesthetic fusion. Given that his last major release under the name was done a few months before 9/11 and its resultant geopolitical consequences, there's a feeling of reviewing and acknowledging the past decade in one place, heightened by the album title and cover image of death and the concluding track's bitter title, "If You Treat Us All Like Terrorists We Will Become Terrorists." But the suggestion is implicit, all five tracks being instrumentals that further blend into each other to create one overall flowing, downbeat effort that is as beautiful as it is aggressively despairing. The opening "Anhedonia," with its layered mix of distant rhythm samples, soft, apparently guitar-based chimes, and what sounds like an aria loop, immediately sets the tone of dislocated melancholy so familiar from his earlier work. The shift from that track into the following "Standard Deviation" is so subtle as to be easily missed, with a central soft, loping rhythm remaining at the core. This sets the tone for the rest of the album's progression, introducing swirls of metallic howls, pulling back other beats to a central organ-sounding melodic loop on "Pareidolia" before bringing in newer drum parts and speeding up the pace, shifting to slow tape-corroded strings and a dub-tinged break before slowly collapsing into a overlay of drones like heavy sighs.

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