From their demo work Apparition, The Contortionist has always been developing as a band. By their third work, Intrinsic, they were composing music that I could describe best as musical DNA, where the musicianship was so locked together so perfectly that it sounded alive. When Language came out, everyone was blown away by how well crafted the music had evolved.
Now with Clairvoyant, they’ve come to uphold the standard. Within the first introduction song, they already peak the interest of the listener with beautiful entry, which they quickly switch to delivering a driving force of heaviness, a bellow of deep chords and accompanying leads, which turns to invite the listener in very welcoming key progressions and melodies. By the first song, they had already captivated my full attention. It was starting off with exactly what I was hoping for as well.
Throughout the album, they demonstrate their power to write incredible music. Knowledge of what makes a great song not only from one member, but six disciplined musicians. Already beginning with a heavy power, the songs in the body of the album just reinforce this standard, asserting itself as a sophisticated piece. Still traditional to the regular listener, it wouldn’t take an in depth knowledge of music to understand the music is prodigious work. However, anyone with a perception of music will have a great deal of experience and influence to take from the music. Hooks and changes, catchy leads and riffs on each instrument, entertaining rhythms, all that can attract anyone listening. It feels like their material has something to offer everyone. Even just after my first listen, I already had lots of their figures stuck in my head for the rest of the day, such as sections from the songs Godspeed, Clairvoyant, and Relapse. A lot of the times also managed to induce a lot of feelings of nostalgia. Of course, like always, the album has actual concept behind it, which I hope to get into when the lyrics are released. From the beginning of the album to the end, like all of their previous albums, the music follows a specific theme. Just another treat for fans of The Contortionist.
They seem to be straying away from their signature sound and going for a more post-rock sound, but the music is still just as diverse, just as progressive, and just as euphonic as their other music. It felt to me like it had a tad bit of quirks throughout my first listen, but like everything new they’ve tried in their past music, the experimentation still sounded great. I sadly fear that someone might be pushing them to sound more oriented and appropriate for the radio, but as long as they’re writing what they enjoy, I have nothing to complain about. I’ll be honest, I couldn’t get into the song “Reimagined”, no matter how many times I gave it a listen, but that was the only song. Don’t let that steer your opinion though, it’s something completely subjective with me, the music is still excelsior and it still sounds like fantastic work by The Contortionist.
By the end of the album, it seems to follow the custom for their previous albums and turns more gentle. With more mellow instrumentation, and softer lyrics, it seems to feel like it’s acknowledging it’s left an impression on the listener, along with the scape of sound and music it resides in, and that it’s bidding a farewell. It stays just as technical and full of standard just as much as each of the earlier songs. In terms of staying interesting during the end, nothing falls short. Finally, the ending song makes a determinate close, full of recurring themes, pleasant result, and a serene beckoning that has the listener wanting more music, regardless of the fact that it’s a near perfect amount. Even by the conclusion of the album, the music is still flourishing, finally leading to closure. At the very end, it leads the song and finishes the album out in the same ambient sequence the album begins in, making the album loop. A wonderful finale to the album.
The actual musicianship under the hood is off the chart as well. Whether it be complex time signatures, in depth offsets like polyrhythms or meters, twists, intricate chord and key changes, it’s all way over the top. It’s all completely educated and experienced. The ability to craft songs the way they do is something that takes years of dedicated effort. The guitars are always perfect, either accompanied or complimented by the fantastic keyboards. The drumming is beyond foundational for the music, along with the grounding bass. The vocals then elevate everything like the focus detail in a piece of art. It’s truly a supreme band of musicianship that’s needed to make something this accomplished and masterly.
The Contortionist is constantly able to lock itself together into a system of complexity, while also making it all subtle so the casual listener can enjoy the music just as much as the active listener. Whether the style that it’s trying to convey is heavy, melodic, ambient, jazz, technical, or a combination of all of the above, this album conveys it nearly flawlessly. Even the parts of the album that seem experimental are wonderful. It’s almost as if the band can execute any style they want in just the way they want to. As I said before, the best way to describe the music this band creates is DNA. Musical, spiritual, natural DNA.
I’d definitely recommend buying this album. You won’t want to miss it. It’s a great work by The Contortionist and is far worth it. The album Clairvoyant comes out on September 15th under Entertainment One Music and pre-orders are available here: