“The Nightmare Lottery” by ExoGeo

The world of independent music has completely shifted over the last decade. “Indie” used to indicate a realm of bands such as Arcade Fire, Phoenix, and Vampire Weekend — twee college radio stuff, a little theatrical and bombastic. Since the rise of Spotify, Bandcamp, and Soundcloud, however, indie music has shifted to mean so much more.

Self-made artists have gone on to win Grammys under the artistic freedom of being truly independent and outside of the studio system — independent music is the best way to do it, if you’re forging a path as a musician or band and want no oversight to damper your creativity. ExoGeo, based out of Seattle, is one prime example of a band that takes the concept of “independent artist” to the absolute max as their debut LP The Nightmare Lottery functions as a massive calling card project. There’s truly nothing more independent than what’s in store here.

With The Nightmare Lottery, each track works as a small piece of the larger whole, and when put together, ExoGeo can craft this massive, 28-minute symphony of chaos and electronic-ambient noise rock that feels wholly unique and untouchable in the scope of modern music, independent or otherwise.

The idea of having tracks that feed into one another while also maintaining a core sound that can’t be met by comparison to any other artist (Mazzy Star vocals by way of crunched up electronic production and heavy country guitar chords, if they were all played at opposite ends of a mausoleum is as close as I can get) is as bold as a new artist can get when arriving on the musical scene, and the boldness pays off — ExoGeo isn’t boldly going just anywhere, they’re boldly fleeing any possible expectations and hammering out an album nobody could have predicted… and it works!

The main gripe with The Nightmare Lottery could be the album’s tightly-knit tracklist, and the difficulty in playing any of the songs out of sequence, but the album comes in at under a half-hour, so the best way to take it is as one large electronic, operatic movement. The percussive “Beatist,” ethereal “Ghost,” and explosive “Missed Opportunity” work as the album’s strongest points, but it’s truly difficult to see this thing as anything but one giant composition, overall. Listeners will undoubtedly draw their favorites from the tracklist, but there’s no contest when it comes to listening to the album front to back.

The independent spirit has arguably never been more alive than it is at the hands of ExoGeo; whether that be because of the tenacity of the material or the fact that it sounds like the literal spirit was resurrected at a seance, who’s to say. It’s not every day that a musician comes across your desk and you’re at a total loss of words when it comes to musical comparisons, but ExoGeo earns that mark in every positive way. The eerie atmosphere feels earned, the replay value is high, and there’s absolutely no telling where ExoGeo goes next. It’ll certainly be an intense and rewarding future for the act, regardless!

Michael Rand

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