It’s been six years since Isis disbanded but still no sign from both parties of any intention to reunite. It is safe to say the other half of the band would benefit more from a reunion than Aaron Turner since he has been putting busy out records and resurrecting HydraHead since the break-up while his ex-band members are still waiting for Chino Moreno to come back and do another Palms album. Meanwhile, Sumac is now back with its second album and it could not sound more unlike Isis.
Starting with a dense wall of bluesy discordance, Images at control brings to mind a meeting between Khanate and Harvey Milk. Bluesy madness and possessed sludge. The song showcases the trio’s passion for conflict as the band crawls through long sludgy breaks. Nick Yacyshyn continuously demonstrates his uncanny talent as a powerhouse drummer capable of as much energy as versatility. Along its nine minutes, What one becomes’ first song displayed more playfulness than Isis shown during any of their songs.
This need for movement comes at the sacrifice of more common songwriting rules but Sumac had always seemed like a trio who wanted to ditch the rule book to create their own world. What else would you expect from three extremely talented musicians anyway? The fingerprint-like cover seemingly inspired by a Rorschach test off by Jackson Pollock could even be enough to interpret visually Sumac‘s desire to imprint their own individuality on the album’s listener.
Only one year after The deal, What one becomes continues the journey started on the album with even more determination than on its predecessor. The album is mean. The album makes no apologize for what it is. The musicians are stretching themselves while constructing something else, something new, something that will turn people off but inspires other.
The small length of time between the first and this second album is still far from Free Jazz’s rhythm of releases but I can’t help but feel Aaron Turner trying to capture some of that same vitality on their recording. An album ready to live at home and live. A record that allows freedom instead of forcing specific song structures down the audience and the musician’s throats and fingertips. What one becomes is a strong and beautiful calling card to go and see the musicians live. A calling card with many layers. A calling card you will enjoy playing again and again out of sheer physical and mental enjoyment.
What one becomes is available via Thrill Jockey