Elder seemlessly meld all facets of their sound into a glorious, cohesive whole and unleash the finest album of their illustrious career!
The Berlin based Elder (three of the four members live there with the fourth living in the USA) have never been a band to stand still sonically. Always striving forward, pushing themselves on their musical journey as far as they can. The previous album Omens (here our review) was a dive into the meandering, lush krautrock sound found on the previous EP The Gold and Silver Sessions. The new album, Innate Passages surprisingly looks backwards as well as showcasing an exciting look forwards, which I admit is a bit confusing, but I’ll try and explain.
The new album looks backwards by incorporating some of the heavier elements that were jettisoned on Omens which to my ears already makes this album one of the finest in the band’s entire career, and that is saying something when you consider the quality of their back catalogue. The forward-looking parts I spoke of, are the band truly delivering on the progressive sound they have been honing in previous years. Both of those lines, whose seeds were planted in the past, have now become the fully blooming tree of exhilarating musical prowess the band were always meant to be.
Kicking things off is “Catastasis” which does an incredible job of showcasing the increased progressive noodling with heavier, doomier riffs. The beautiful guitar work is draped over an elaborate propulsive skeleton of the rhythm section who seems to be having the time of their lives. The bouncy drumbeats work in complete harmony with the increased use of the keyboards to create a work of outstanding aural quality.
Following song “Coalescence” is even more of a trip into the subconscious with dream-like keys coming to the fore. Shimmering in its execution, it almost becomes uncoupled from its earthly grounding to explore the outer reaches of sonic exploration.
The lynchpin of the album, clocking in at over 14 minutes in length and standout track “Merged in Dreams – Ne Plus Ultra” is quite possibly one of the finest tracks the band has ever committed to tape, it’s so glorious. The dynamics on display are breath-taking, from delicate fret-board tapped passages to a barn storming mid-song rock out part which is just mind blowing and then it falls apart before building back anew. It’s a journey of listening pleasure which never fails to appeal to every music loving sinew in my body, it’s incredible.
What Elder have achieved here is astonishing. They were already one of the most revered acts in music today and they have outdone themselves on this album in almost every department. Considering the standard of output from this band down the years, the fact that this, to me, is their best ever album says it all, it’s alchemy of the very highest order. Even if you have only a passing interest in guitar-driven music you owe it to yourself to put on a pair of headphones, press play and submerge yourself in this wonderful album, the only problem with it is, it came too late to put it on my album of the year list!.