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PELICAN – Ataraxia/Taraxis – EP Review

PELICAN – Ataraxia/Taraxis – EP Review
Website: http://www.facebook.com/pelicansong
Fans Of: Isis, Red Sparrowes, Cult Of Luna
Label: Southern Lord
Download This: Taraxis
Genre(s): Post Rock, Soundscape
Release Date: 10/04/12

Look what the cat dragged in: Pelican’s new EP, Ataraxia/Taraxis. This is the fifth EP from the band and the first release since 2009′s What We All Come To Need. This time, Pelican have moved from the blood-red sea into the desert.

The EP artwork features a peaceful, partly cloudy sand dune landscape – will the impression of the scenery be reflected in the four songs on Ataraxia/Taraxis? Spoiler alert!: Nope, it’s not. At least not for me. Based on the artwork, I expected a couple of soothing and relaxing songs. Guess what? I was wrong. I was a bit disappointed because what I’d heard was almost the complete opposite of what I was expecting.

Realising that the whole artwork/ content thing wasn’t going to work, I did a little research on the meaning behind the album and song titles that I didn’t understand. ‘Ataraxia’ is the Greek term for tranquility; ‘Lathe Biosas’ means that you should live secretly, without drawing attention to yourself and ‘Taraxis’ is either a kind of herb or refers to dismay. I had hoped that this would help me to understand the songs so I could get into it, but it didn’t work. Again. So there was only one thing for it: to not overthink it and just listen to the music.

Opening the EP, Pelican have created sounds that give a swelling sensation, making you feel like there’s something coming for you. The main idea of ‘Ataraxia’ is that it is the only thing that can soothe you. Other sounds start slowly appearing and become stronger. By the end there’s only noise and then it’s all over.

But you don’t have time to think about it; ‘Lathe Biosas’ kicks in, almost giving you a heart attack. Heavy guitars and drums are guiding you through the song, forcing you to move your head and/or your feet. If you don’t want to draw attention to yourself, you shouldn’t play this song loud. Otherwise, turn it up to eleven and enjoy!

Then there’s ‘Parasite Colony’, a bit of a doomy track, but it’s also heavy. A few albums back I wouldn’t have used the term ‘heavy’ to describe Pelican’s sound, but, like it or not, they surely have evolved in the past few years.

The last song on Pelican’s EP, ‘Taraxis’, is the most varied in my opinion. Starting with acoustic guitars (it sometimes sounds like the strings haven’t been tightened properly) accompanied by low-key drumming, are joined then by electric guitars, minimalist electronics and percussions (a rhythm egg shaker, maybe?). Sometimes I thought it was a bit too much, but a few minutes later I decided that the instruments worked well together.

To me, every song on ‘Ataraxia/Taraxis’ stands for its own, sometimes they end or begin too abruptly and it seems like they don’t belong together. I miss the feeling of everything forming a full circle. Yes, this is what you would expect from an album rather than from an EP, but I really can’t feel the connection between the four songs, which is maybe the main reason why I can’t decide if I love or hate ‘Ataraxia/Taraxis’.

Track Listing

1. Ataraxia
2. Lathe Biosas
3. Parasite Colony
4. Taraxis