“Surfacing from deep eddies of despair, brined in nearly a decade of retrograde emotions, Hive Mind extends and surpasses 2011’s Elemental Disgrace with a new vision of blurry, bleary atmospheres conjured through post-dissolution electronics, giving the devoted what they desire while still envisioning a new path forward.
In the album’s first half, the distress signals scrambled emergency broadcast signals of “Wish Contact” thread seamlessly into the massive, irreversible immolation of “Mars, Cloaked in Leather,” presenting a condensed view of the earth in its final dissolution. Seen from thousands of miles in the air, the last days resemble a field of smoldering embers: metallic structures break apart and fall into the sea, reverberating their last stunned gasps like submerged gongs. Wars have been zero-sum; only loss, only obliteration, last soldiers laying siege to ashes, fire burning fire, draped inelegantly with inky smoke and toxic air. Explosives continue to detonate. Ceaseless obliteration even after all loss of human life. Sound evoking the smell of kerosene-soaked rags set ablaze, mortars repeating in the distance, until suddenly a low, elegant roar, one that is unattributable to crude human war machinery, emerges overhead. A vessel that could have been an escape, a rebirth, but now only hovers, watching, bearing witness to earth’s final dishonorable days. Poor and always compromised, never proud. In disgust, the decision is made from above to evaporate all traces. Sterilize the entire planet so that nothing (and especially NO ONE) will ever rebuild again. Perhaps they could save a few as specimens, but what could they possibly learn without being contaminated? Enough. End it.
The second half of the program presents four short, stately, precise environments evoked in sound, perhaps a view of four locations within the witnessing vessel, locations in which other worlds, less lethal worlds, can be heard and imagined. “The Roses in Bagatelle Garden” is a chamber cooled with oscillating fans feathered in gold, lending a soft, cooling drone under a new chant for new elders whose sacred icon is a lock and its sacrament a bouquet of picks. “House Without a Key” scores a stately processional to the court, every note and nuance trailing a plume of fragrant lavender smoke. From a lower deck, a request is made to “Come Alone.” A still pool stands in the middle of a massive gymnasium; occasional drips reverberate off the walls, agitating swarms of insects. From here, machinery from adjoining rooms can be heard faintly, as if in translucent memory. “Pawns Put Back Together” regresses us in a pool of psychedelic amniotic fluid, a ritual of amnesia completed while far below, the world once known becomes another cold, icy void in the universe.
Elysian Alarms contains many hidden surprises. It not only surpasses recent releases like Beneath Triangle and Crescent and They Made Me the Keeper of the Vineyards in density and textural variant, but the quartet of shorter tracks present, over 75 releases in, a host of entirely new possibilities, their synths and devices enveloping and protecting smaller concrete sounds. At the same time, the blackened and greasy opening track still rattles the innards and unsettles the spirit, just as you want, just as you expect, just as this era of cascading catastrophes demands. Be of good cheer, for the darkness only seems eternal until the smoke subsides.”
-Chris Sienko [As Loud As Possible]