Andrew Wagner reviews Rachel Evans aka Motion Sickness of Time Travel's new work The Perennials.
What stands out at first about Motion Sickness of Time Travel’s latest EP, The Perennials, are the beats. Her last major release, a massive self-titled LP, clocked in at a whopping 80 minutes and consisted of four symphonic-sized tracks of echoing drones. It’s an album that I’m still digesting. The Perennials, instead, has five shorter (but not, by any means, short) tracks filled with synth beats and clear song structures, landing somewhere in between drone and pop. The press release for the album cites ’90s trance as a reference point, and though that doesn’t quite seem to fit (the pop-ier songs, if anything, fall closer to a Tangerine Dream soundtrack), it emphasizes that on this record, Rachel Evans no longer seems content to linger in her endless, ambient soundscapes.
Instead, The Perennials finds Evans following in the path hinted at by the final track on her previous album, in which the listless and hypnotic echos of her voice are brought (slightly) back down to Earth by an equally hypnotic looping synth line. On The Perennials, the songs are even more forcefully grounded. This change is perhaps best captured by the wonderful track, "Foggy Morning", in which ambient tones largely take the background to a simple but effective static, industrial, and noisy loop. Elsewhere, "Effloresence" is driven by a pulsing and dark synth beat, while "The Reynard and the Vixen" pairs a synth line of almost random bleeps with the ghostly echoes of Evans singing, "I know we can make it last". Even the drone-ier moments of The Perennials feel far more awake than past Motion Sickness of Time Travel releases; the previous haze has started to dissipate.
But ultimately, it’s still those warm washes of ambient droning that Evans does best, with sumptious melodies and harmonies that surround you and seep into your skin. Accordingly, it’s "The Walk of the White Cat" that’s the best track on the EP, which finds Evans almost completely ditching the beat-driven synthlines, and comes closest to the staggering complexity of the previous album’s soundscapes. However, even if The Perennials isn’t quite the masterwork that Evans’ previous album was (but could we really expect it to be?), it’s still an immensely pleasureable listen. There’s much to love about Evans’ song sketches, and there’s a certain delight to be taken in these smaller synth compositions. To put it simply, it’s a fun little EP, one which should stave us off until Evans completes her next, more complex release.
The Perennials is out now on Boomkat Editions.