Nathaniel Utesch has built his own unique, singular sonic world within the music project Metavari. There’s been an evolution from the band’s post-rock beginnings with a stage full of members, to the crystalline electronic tones that Utesch has brought the music to currently. The last few years has seen Metavari make the striking electronic album Moonless, score Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, re-imagine the scores to the short films of David Lynch, and find a musical rebirth with drummer Colin Boyd after the tragic loss of founding member and longtime friend Ty Brinneman.
On Soft Continuum(Studies Vol. 2), Metavari’s newest long player, Utesch builds fantastical new sonic realms. With Boyd making his percussive mark, along with past members Andrew McComas, Kyle Steury, and the late Ty Brinneman contributing, Soft Continuum(Studies Vol. 2) is a trip into the past while firmly stepping into the future.
With every new Metavari album I’m amazed. Nathaniel Utesch has built a sonic kingdom all his own. The kinetic rhythms, glitchy electronics, and the ambient head trips all come together to create a visceral and intellectual listening experience. Nate’s work is up there with guys like Daniel Lopatin(OPN), Ryan Lee West(Rival Consoles), and Brian Leeds(Huerco S). His is a singular sound and vision, and one that is in constant flux and movement. A rotational music force to be reckoned with; visceral, heady, and intentionally challenging in all the best ways.
Soft Continuum(Studies Vol. 2) is a re-imagining of Metavari’s debut album Be One Of Us And Hear No Noise, and the conceptualized tracks are titled after the stages of a star’s rare “stellar rebirth”. Listening to the album you get the feeling of floating through the void. Seeing the past, present, and future swim around you in a kaleidoscope of emotional release. Life, death, and rebirth are at the heart of this album.
“Kings Die Like Other Men(Rediscovery)” reminds me of early Boards of Canada, while building new musical architecture only Nate Utesch has the blueprints for. “Drift” opens like a fairy tale as we enter the vast and wondrous world Soft Continuum provides. There is joy here. Single “Páirc Sequence” provides ample light and dark, opening on a grand scale while providing tiny pockets of subtlety throughout. It’s truly a grand musical statement.
Elsewhere there’s the three part “Arc” which ranges from the sublime(“Arc I”) to the urgent(“Arc III”). There’s the subtle movements of “Furioso” which brings to mind the work of Stein and Dixon, while I hear the great Tangerine Dream in the shaded melody of “Swarm”. All of it coming to an end on the mysterious and quietly melancholy “Bloom”.
Life moves us through good and bad – triumph and tragedy – and we has humans deal with it all as best we can. Nathaniel Utesch deals through the magic of music. Soft Continuum(Studies Vol. 2) is his ode to life and death. It’s his goodbye to a friend and band mate gone, and to a “stellar rebirth” of a project he’s led for nearly 15 years.