Album Review: FUTURE USSES The Existential Haunting
To save myself from eye-rollers and naysayers in regards to the use of subgenres in order to define a band's sound, I fully agree that certain terms can be detrimental to or potentially pigeonhole an artist's style. However, subgenres are equally effective and sometimes necessary in creating a framework to describe musical qualities. While no artist nowadays exclusively belongs to a certain subgenre, they normally fall close to a particular territory. For the most part, this is the case with Future Usses. The Los Angeles trio clashes moody and instrumental atmospheres based in post-rock with the dark and viscous tones of post-metal.
The musical fusion truly makes sense when you look at the band's lineup. Known for his previous sludgy endeavors such as Intronaut and Bereft, Sacha Dunable (guitars) formed this trio with Bereft bandmate Derek Donley (drums) as well as Dan Wilburn (bass). At some moments, the material on this debut LP bears resemblance to the textures created in Intronaut, but there seems to be an overall different mindset. Although both bands in comparison have sludge-driven and post-metal passages, Future Usses drags a song's soundscape to an even farther ambience. An Intronaut song may create tension and a sense of urgency for heavy riffs to surface. On the other hand, Future Usses excels at allowing the listener to become lost in their own thoughts.
The 11-minute opening piece is one hell of a trip and ultimately provides the deepest question of all: "What Is Anything." Considering the song's length, the slow evolution that takes place across the span of the track is reminiscent of Earth and their gradual evolution within one piece. "Absolute Zero" and "Heavenly Superperson" follow a similar concept in regards to downtempo moodiness, yet they certainly dive into heavier realm alike post-rock/metal like Rosetta.
"Make Flowers" seems to be the only piece on this release that strayed from a post-rock or post-metal perspective. Instead, the song took the route of October Rust-era Type O Negative. The eerie vocals and explorations in feedback keep the doom-laden pace interesting. Once you reach the closing title track, an overwhelming feeling consumes you as if you've woken from a splendid hibernation. After fully listening to the LP, it's easy to agree with the common observation regarding post-rock/metal, which states this kind of music is a perfect soundtrack for introspection.
While a large majority of this album is coated in sleepy, airy reverb, there are segments of songs startled by thick guitar or drum hits. And although there is a contrasting dynamic present on a couple of tracks, the overall listen is quite smooth and digestible. For this very reason, I'd be daft not to mention the spectacular production team behind this record who polished up the material to be oh so very appetizing to consume: Josh Newell (Intronaut, Cynic) and Derek Donley produced the drums and guitars at Clearlake Audio. Meanwhile, Jon Nunez (Torche) oversaw bass production. To cap it all off, Kurt Ballou did all of the mixing (Converge) at GodCity Studio.
In conclusion, The Existential Haunting is possibly the most accurate creation of a 50/50 split between post-rock and post-metal. Other acts like Set and Setting or Pelican have ventured down a comparable path, yet Future Usses takes the cake for such graceful duality. The strong atmospheres created on The Existential Haunting are divine and the perfect score to simply lay on the floor with the lights off and bathe in its aural music bliss.