Pagan Interface – The Last Days Of Everything

 Pagan Interface – The Last Days Of Everything

Pagan Interface – The Last Days Of Everything – Album Review

Kinda like what I might imagine taking three of my own favorites from the electro circuit like Boards Of Canada, Prefuse 73, and a pinch of good ol’ Aphex Twin-inspired mayhem & mischief for good measure – somewhere in a recipe like that, you might yield something close to what Pagan Interface sounds like.  Highly creative and exploratory sounds flow fluidly throughout this adventurous digital wonderland, the odd & the bizarre are fully embraced, and curious moments in time come bubbling to the surface in all kinds of intense, melodic, and admirably creative ways.  The Last Days Of Everything is all as compelling as it is intriguing…to experience…around each corner & next song lies an all-new experience different than the last, yet as an album, still feels & sounds remarkably cohesive…Pagan Interface is 100% badass.

That’s how I hear & see all this anyway.  I suppose I could just shut up and read the cue cards in front of me, which will tell you that this is “neuromantic chillwave for the postapocalypse.”  I have…no real idea of what that might mean, but sure, it sounds cool to me, so I’ll go with that for now…there you have it.  However you want to define it with whichever strange combination of words you can muster is A-OK with me hombres…as long as we can all agree on the basic fundamentals here, like the awesomeness of Pagan Interface’s music on The Last Days Of Everything then the rest is just semantics, ain’t it?  Right on.  Let me just go ahead & type a whole bunch of words describing these songs now like I never mentioned all that.  Down the rabbit hole we go…

The Last Days Of Everything starts out with “Intro/Behaviour – Modified By Alcaloids,” quickly introducing you to the rhythmically-chill, mysterious & curious sounds you’ll find become a signature staple of this record.  Pagan Interface works the magic of hypnotic sound into the fabric of these tunes and you’ll get a dose of that right away on this opening cut.  Certainly doesn’t take more than a couple seconds of “Intro/Behaviour – Modified By Alcaloids” to audibly confirm you’re in for something strange and off the beaten path…and on the way into the first minute, you’ll also hear why it’s going to be completely worth your time to stick around for whatever comes next.  A smart switch in direction & fresh energy is added into the mix, the texture of the music itself feels like you could reach out & touch it…it’s vibrant stuff that’s designed to catch your attention & keep it through clever moves being made throughout the structure of Pagan Interface’s tracks on The Last Days Of Everything.  This project will loop ya right into the beyond with the hypnosis effect on-high here – but you’ll be stoked to be along for the right each and every time, but every one of these tunes packs in serious sound quality and wild ideas – “Intro/Behaviour – Modified By Alcaloids” immediately steers the ship brilliantly off course & tilts listeners into all-new sonic terrain and a realm that’s ready to reveal ambitious & exploratory vibes.

“Vermillion (‘Atomicbald)” will confirm the oddity that Pagan Interface truly is when it comes to what’s out there right now…and I suppose I mean that in terms of both ideas and the quality of sound – this is exceptional stuff, but rare to find so well done in the independent scene.  Musicians are incredible people when it comes right down to it…you’ll see (and obviously hear) many allusions to drugs on The Last Days Of Everything…but make no mistake, whatever Pagan Interface might have ingested, smoked, or decided to go rolling on for a week straight, the results here speak for themselves – cuts like “Vermillion (‘Atomicbald)” not only flex continuous creativity & smart sound selection, but it’s also tracks like these that show the hands on the studio boards & decks are in full-control at all times no matter what’s happening recreationally in the background.  While an album like this isn’t usually designed with the thought of what would make a great single in mind in an effort to keep the uniqueness at the forefront instead, songs still tend to get put out there one way or the other to represent the record & pull the people in – “Vermillion (‘Atomicbald)” would make a strong candidate.  I might personally feel more of an attachment to the very next song, but looking at this in terms of what could potentially pique the interest & curiosity of the listeners out there, this cut hits the mark spot-on.

I’ve always had a serious soft spot for songs like “Offdaywars” – I think this is probably the highlight for me personally within the first three tunes, all of which I think are strong.  “Offdaywars” does that awesome filter-thingy whereby half of the melody & sound we hear seems like it’s just melted away a little bit, giving you that slight tape-in-the-sun texture to it all…and I’ll admit, I’m addicted to that.  You find it a lot in Boards Of Canada…and on a playlist with those guys, I’d happily add this cut from Pagan Interface & just let the music keep on rolling along seamlessly…this project fits right in there with this cut.  Definitely one of my own personal favorites from The Last Days Of Everything, the brightness in the melody is spectacular for sure, but it’s truly the mastery in the mix and assembly here that shines the brightest light on what’s setting Pagan Interface apart from the rest.  There might be comparisons to be made, sure, there always are – but when it comes to signature movements & identity, you’ll hear plenty in this project forming already.  Songs like “Offdaywars” sweeten-up this record at the same time as create another dimension of exploratory sound that adds more depth & versatility to the album overall.

For the audiophiles like myself out there, it’s cuts like “Just As Handsome As Your Heart Allows Me To Be” that are going to keep you highly engaged & onboard, while the complexity & stuttered-shot beats of this cut are bound to shake a few others off the bandwagon for a moment.  Just depends on what the ol’ brain can handle…I’m sure I don’t need to explain to Pagan Interface what makes this cut less accessible on a mass-scale, nor would I expect this project to give one single shit about any of that.  Pagan Interface is making music for the sole purpose OF making music…whether you, I, or anyone else out there digs it at all is probably highly irrelevant when it comes to the creative process in this project.  Nor does it need our feedback or input…the instincts on display here and the seamless way each song flows & then fluidly moves straight into the next, no matter how diverse the next song may be, is a genuine testament to the fact that Pagan Interface is already firing at a completely pro level.  So maybe some people get “Just As Handsome As Your Heart Allows Me To Be” and others won’t…we can theorize about that stuff all day long, but really that’s the reality of all music, just more pronounced & magnified by a situation like this.  While a track like this might potentially narrow the audience a bit more or confuse yo momma – those that do ‘get it’ will easily be as attached to this cut as any of the rest on this album, perhaps even more so.  Not everyone out there wants to be served straight-up, you feel me?  Tracks like “Just As Handsome As Your Heart Allows Me To Be” challenge the ears more than other cuts are willing or daring enough to do…ears like mine appreciate that, and hopefully yours work the same.

The punched-up beat guiding “Cherry Blossom Glitch” and samples floating throughout the atmosphere reveal an intense diversity in sound that displays high-levels of innovation & imagination through smart sound selection.  Whether it’s the bizarreness of the vocal-samples (or at least…I think that’s what those are?) or the boldness of the beat that drives the stomp & storm through “Cherry Blossom Glitch” – Pagan Interface once again puts a huge depth of sound on display and an entire range of stuff happening from melody on the surface to the rhythm down below.  There’s nothing typical about tracks like “Cherry Blossom Glitch” – the creativity & skill flexed & finessed into these songs is certainly no joke.

You know…even though more involved ideas like “Just As Handsome As Your Heart Allows Me To Be” or more challenging/adventurous compositions like “Toothless Youth” can be, I can’t help but feel like the straight-up INTERESTING sounds you’ll find on this record would pull in just about everyone out there.  Sure it’s nothing like your Aunt Marge’s top-40 favorites from the sixties – but I bet you she’s like, 100% cooler than you give her credit for & she’d probably bump this record loud and proud like the rest of us.  LISTEN closely to the layers…listen to the smart way that Pagan Interface can add or subtract sounds in the mix, and create an exceptional amount of movement in the music as a result.  While a lot of these tunes can feel like they’re looping around on ya to provide that hypnotic vibe that Pagan Interface does so damn well – it’s when you’re really listening that you’ll fully appreciate just how much is actually happening at the same time.  It’s not just as simple as hitting a button and letting things repeat – there’s all kinds of work being put in and the sounds of songs like “Toothless Youth” (and the rest of this record) all continually shift in one direction or the other, never ever really sitting as still as you might think it is.

“Bohemian Electric (A Day For Drugs)” does an exceptional job of working in that throwback vibe into the mix through the guitar, while supplying a serious amount of digital rhythm & groove surrounding it, cutting it up, stopping on a dime, backing things in & out of the mix, breaking it down & bringing it all back…keeping your attention through slick movements from the lefts to the rights.  I’d put this right up there with the most intense & accessible cuts you’ll find on The Last Days Of Everything – this is a set of single-worthy sounds combined to perfection on “Bohemian Electric (A Day For Drugs),” armed to the teeth with undeniable hooks from the tone of the guitar to the low-end groove & beat to keep ya captivated from beginning to end.  I’ll fully admit to becoming addicted to this entire album, but my shortlist of what’s up there at the very top of my favorites definitely includes this cut, “Offdaywars,” and “Malleable New Flesh” coming up in just a short while here…these are songs where I’m helpless to resist – and rather than even try, I just turn up the volume and let Pagan Interface take over my world for a minute or two.  In the case of “Bohemian Electric (A Day For Drugs),” two-minutes & forty-nine seconds to be exact – and I’d happily listen easily for a whole two-minutes & forty-nine seconds more if I could.  Well I can…and I have…that’s what repeat is for…believe me when I say, I’ve had that button checked.

I’ve been jamming this record late-nights here at the studio for days now since I’ve got it – songs like “Pink Satin Rap” are a solid example of why that is.  Pagan Interface has such a wicked grip on the hypnotic-side of music and how to keep your full attention at all times – the stop/start approach that is employed on tracks like this & others throughout the album instantly pull you right back into the groove goin’ on every time – and just when you think it might be done, you’ll likely get another loop or solid dose of an incredible hook comin’ atcha all over again.  So no lie…sometimes I’d be listening, sometimes I’d be writing…sometimes I’d look up and it was like I had moved forward hours in time without even blinking…I could fully get lost in the music of Pagan Interface without resistance whatsoever.  The REAL question is…is just how good IS this project?  I mean really?  Do I even actually have a choice in whether or not I get to like these songs – or is Pagan Interface SO GOOD that it can just program a whole set of sounds that are guaranteed to find a home inside my brain and onto my playlists forever?  Maybe choice is nothing but simply an illusion here.  I suppose at this point, I can question it all, but I’d never be able to tell for sure would I?  Only Pagan Interface actually knows the answer to any of this.  The point is, this whole record will pretty much turn your world upside down for at least a moment or two, but more than likely for the full duration…as to whether or not you choose to return to your world afterwards, that’s all up to you fine folks out there…I plan on holing up here with this record in the underworld.

I couldn’t tell ya why songs like “S/D/S (Sex/Drugs/Synths)” remind me of the jungle somehow…or maybe just being out there on your own in the wild somewhere, wandering.  Maybe it’s the exploratory sounds that songs like this and “Toothless Youth” pump out…and while it might not lead necessarily to a physical journey, Pagan Interface is clearly offering your ears up a sonic odyssey for the mind’s eye.  However you hear it, however you define what you hear, I think we can all agree cuts like this are a genuine trip out of your world and into the universe of sound that Pagan Interface creates…each of these experiences have been a serious audio voyage into the beyond and “S/D/S (Sex/Drugs/Synths)” is definitely included in that.  Pagan Interface may be TRYING to keep these experiences short & tight so that these ideas don’t wear themselves out…but given how many miles I’ve already put into listening to The Last Days Of Everything, I can tell ya firsthand that these tracks are gonna hold up STRONG for years & years to come.  Cuts like “S/D/S (Sex/Drugs/Synths)” might not end up being the immediate stand-out on those first couple spins, but tracks like this are essential to the transition & flow of the album overall.

Wasn’t any question about it, every time “Malleable New Flesh” came on, I was convinced it was my favorite cut on The Last Days Of Everything…and I think I’m comfortable in that final assessment of these uneasy & eerie sounds that haunt the vibe of this killer tune.  Like I said, this is interesting to the ears, and at all times, every track you’ll hear throughout the album is…songs like “Malleable New Flesh” just make it all the more abundantly clear just how much the selection of sound will put a firm grip on ya.  I struggled with writing about this song for the simple fact that it’s probably best to just type AMAZING in all-caps and leave it at that, there’s really nothing else that can be argued or said…figured I’d try anyway.  Sexy mystique laces the sound of this song from wall to wall, skewing what’s left of your sanity and the reality you know…I’m tellin’ ya, of all the impressive avenues, twists, turns, and different directions that Pagan Interface has chosen to explore on this record, all roads keep leading me back to this being one of the album’s most defining moments.  “Malleable New Flesh” ain’t just a sick title, it’s an all-out sick song and an extraordinarily mysterious, mischievous, & effective highlight on The Last Days Of Everything.

I’ll put it to ya this way…if you’re still along for the ride here, then there’s no problem with taking on a cut like “Dead Channels” next.  If you were the type to take flight around the point of “Just As Handsome As Your Heart Allows Me To Be,” then this might be another point of potential struggle.  I ain’t catering to the people that don’t get what Pagan Interface is laying down here though – this music on The Last Days Of Everything is 100% my jam.  So if ya happened to fall off the bandwagon at some point along the way, sorry & all, hope ya didn’t hit your ass too hard on the way to the ground…the rest of us are ridin’ on like the pimps we are with the rad beats of Pagan Interface for the soundtrack of our next adventure, thank-you very much.  As complex as it can get, I think you gotta dig on the amount of chill that rests upon the shimmering surface of this track as well…it’s kind of like a ‘choose your own adventure’ dealio in that sense…you can relax with the laidback vibe, or you can audibly concentrate on all the craziness within the composition that creates a track like “Dead Channels” and get that much more out of it.  Ultimately I can recognize there’s more universal sounds & songs that will appeal to the people out there listening quicker than “Dead Channels” probably will, but I’d still argue its place here on this album is no less valid than any of the rest…if you dig one of these tunes from Pagan Interface, then dammit, you really should be open to them all.

What was that phrase again?  That slogan Pagan Interface is puttin’ on all the business cards to sell this music to the corporate suits & ties to land all those sweet-sweet commercial deals?  Ahhh yes – right – “neuromantic chillwave for the postapocalypse” – how could I possibly forget that?  Anyhow.  I can get behind that description after listening to cuts like “The Wasteland Is Burning” and the rest of this record in-full now…I feel like I understand what the real heart, core, and roots of AUTHENTIC “neuromantic chillwave for the postapocalypse” is really all about now & could totally spot those faking it from this point forward easily thanks to this fine example provided by Pagan Interface.   LEARNING IS FUN KIDS!  Big drum sounds lead the way through the storming beat supplied to your speakers on “The Wasteland Is Burning” – personally, I love’em.  I can tell Pagan Interface is gonna take shit from the odd reviewer or listener out there that doesn’t quite get a mix like this, with controlled, blown-out sounds…for a lot of people out there, it just sounds like it’s red-lined over the threshold…but if you listen to the clarity in EVERYTHING surrounding that element in the music, you can absolutely confirm that it’s purposeful.  There’s an art in static, an art in overdriven sounds too…used effectively like Pagan Interface uses them, these elements can add massive doses of texture into the mix…it can all actually become a massive part of what leads these songs like “The Wasteland Is Burning” to feel so vividly real to experience.  This cut’s probably the most Aphex-like, somewhere around the say…Richard D. James Album-ish era…the not-so insanely nuts side of Aphex Twin, the controlled & cool side, with just a hint of badass Jazz in the mix.

“Pretty Boy Hell” is just a HAIR shy of being right there on that shortlist of my absolute favorites from this record…it’s basically ridin’ with the best of the best on The Last Days Of Everything.  Pagan Interface has a remarkable understanding of how to use sound in a malleable way…listening to “Pretty Boy Hell” is a freakin’ treat for the ears I tell ya!  These bendable & tripped out sounds all flyin’ around ya mix a deadly low-end rhythm together that keeps a steady & intense pace, while coming & going, starting & stopping, and creating a full-on riotous vibe that would definitely make for killer night driving.  I mean, I’ll take this tune any way that I can get it – but just imagine crusin’ with this on while you’re rippin’ it up on the highway at full speed…you know you’d feel like you were both fast AND furious, be honest!  According to the notes I’ve got here in front of me, The Last Days Of Everything was released independently…and once it was, Sliptrick Records was right there to partner up with this project and take it to the next-level…songs like “Pretty Boy Hell” and the stunning execution you’ll find throughout this hypnotic masterpiece completely confirm all you’d need to know about WHY a label would pursue Pagan Interface.  This is one of those rare commodities no one out there should pass up on.

Flippin’ the script, back’n’and’forth’n, shifting space & time…you know, all in a day’s work for Pagan Interface, so what better way to end the record than by creating one final cut that’ll bend your mind before it’s all over.  “Spacefunkprostitution” ain’t JUST a pretty title, it’s a badass track from start to finish and ultimately, the perfect way to finish this record off on one last highlight that puts the best of what Pagan Interface is all about on display once more before we go.  That is, go to repeat the record of course, if you’re being smart about your choices in LIFE.  Between “Pretty Boy Hell” and “Spacefunkprostitution” appearing back-to-back here at the end of The Last Days Of Everything, we’re talking about one seriously tighter-than-tight ending with spectacular highlights to finish this off in style.  As far as the ‘chillwave’ part of “neuromantic chillwave for the postapocalypse” is concerned – this last cut is where Pagan Interface hits that mark the most bang-on.  The way the sounds bounce and echo around throughout the thick mix of “Spacefunkprostitution” is straight-up genius…and the odd way things come & go throughout this final tune will keep you relentlessly interested.  Almost like it’s freestyled in a way that the other tracks weren’t…perhaps even a moment or two along this last voyage in sound that your ears will question as to whether or not it was a purposeful move or a happy accident – however you end up hearing it, “Spacefunkprostitution” will provide you with the perfect sendoff.

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