“The Synaesthetic Picture Show – Now Playing, Pt. 2” EP by Elektragaaz

A lot of records take a minute or two to really get warmed up, but in the new EP The Synaesthetic Picture Show – Now Playing, Pt. 2, Elektragaaz don’t give us any time whatsoever to pace ourselves for the dramatic decadence of their sound, starting off with the song “Reflections in a Funkhouse Mirror.” Probably the most literally titled tracks here, “Reflections in a Funkhouse Mirror” has all the luster of a ‘70s funk anthem with more of the excessive, postmodern eccentricities millennial music lovers have come to appreciate more than those who came before them ever could. Put together with “Achilles Back From the Dead,” the first ten minutes of The Synaesthetic Picture Show – Now Playing, Pt. 2 are even more enthralling than those in the first part in this series of releases was – and that’s just the beginning. 

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“Sister Sangfroid” is loose and laxly groove-centric, but its central linchpins are sonically the same as those in the two songs ahead of it in the tracklist are. “Spanish Moss and Mysteries” was a song I played probably three or four times in a row when I originally sat down to preview this EP last week, and its fleeting sense of pessimism is likely the reason why. There’s something very counterproductive about its descending melodies and the upbeat sensibilities of the rhythm, and yet it flows more freely than any of the songs in the first half of the record do. It’s conflicted defined, and in the most beautiful and relaxing of terms I can think of. 

At less than three and a half minutes in total length, “Little Dancer Makes Her Getaway” wouldn’t seem like the most epic performance you’re going to hear in The Synaesthetic Picture Show – Now Playing, Pt. 2, but it is nonetheless for one reason – it crams more instrumental ribbonry into its running time than is possible for other electronic groups these days. Ironically enough, the finish on this track feels almost analogue stylistically, with the guitar parts in the mix sounding particularly filled with a rusticity of the most desirable variety. Cosmetics can be deceiving, but the lesson in this song is that so can players who know how to expertly interweave surface-level features with the very substance of a compositional narrative. 

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Elektragaaz wrap things up with “Presentiment,” a sharp and brisk ending to what feels like a lurching, intentionally anti-melodic second act in The Synaesthetic Picture Show – Now Playing, Pt. 2, and as the majestic mind-bender drifts into silence, so does any shred of uncertainty I might have had about what this band can contribute to the next chapter in electronica’s long and storied history. There hasn’t been much electronic, ambient, or avant-garde pop I’ve been empowered by in the last six months, but even if there had been, my gut says this would still feel like a landmark extended play all the way around. To put it simply, I’m ready for more of this material and I doubt I’m the only one. 

Michael Rand 

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