Featured image shot by Jayden Becker
In a world already filled with alternate reality games and VR for your own living room, I have always felt like the storytelling capabilities of electronic music are oftentimes overlooked for all of the other things that music can do. Interesting to think about especially when you can clearly see the impact of albums like Porter Robinson’s Worlds, or in a similar fashion Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid, m.A.A.d City. A good story can sometimes be more impactful than even the real thing. So perhaps there is a special touch that goes into creating nothing from something. A special touch that Houndtrack has managed to give to his album Last Chance at Life.
Only way forward is to leave this all behind…
Every one of his socials has been wiped clean, with nothing but the cryptic phrase, “Only way forward is to leave this all behind” plastered in all corners. We found a lost track called “Launch Sequence,” sitting in the internet sphere. It’s an eerie few minutes of ear ringing bass. It’s end leaves your head feeling too empty, thirsty for some type of sound, anything to drown out the silence. About what you would expect when blasting off into zero-gravity space, although not necessarily expected from Houndtrack. Coming from more mellow roots, this project has pushed the boundaries of what Houndtrack has always sounded like as an artist. In an attempt to challenge the listener, he has created a story that has carried us far into the atmosphere.
“In the near future, Earth has been ravaged by humans’ destruction. Dystopian distress compels a ragtag crew of a biochemist, an aerospace engineer, and an artist to launch into space in search of a new planet to sustain a last chance at life…”
The first release of the project, “Scorched Earth” is masterful in its stage setting. You can almost feel the tools in your hands hit material with the grating beat, working metal and wire, and technology in an attempt to reach the stars. There seems to be a clear moment when your vessel is complete. There is this burst of almost… euphoria at the end. An insatiable feeling. Hope manifested for just a moment in a world ravaged, just like the dark rose blooming in the cover art. Our humans here, Kyla, Omar, and Leo, are finally ready to set off on the adventure of their lives.
Into “Hyperspace” we go…. the hope that sprouted in the first track threatens to bloom through your chest. A reckless hope, one so immense it overpowers even your will to live. Not caring whether you die or not, all that matters is that this hope does not whither away. I’m not kidding you, my jaw dropped the first time I heard this song. A high you never come down from, literally. Ending in breathlessness, weightlessness, any other word for that moment when you feel like you are made of nothing.
“Weightless” is so very interesting. This moment of release before the real journey. A simple taste meant to awaken your hunger and deepen your thirst. There are echoes of the world you have left behind as it fades from your perspective. The almost guitar sound seems like something your brain tries its best to understand and, yet, it is truly unfamiliar.
Life made to bloom in any kind of home…
The craft gently descended toward the ground, violet dust swirling around them. Untouched landscape beckoned to them from outside the vessel. “Unreal,” Kyla began, hands on her hips, “it’s so foreign, yet kinda feels like returning to an old friend.” “Well,” Leo replied, ducking his head below the ship’s door while exiting, “that’s the hope.”
Everything is muted through this space suit as the first step onto “Uncharted” land is taken. To find this familiar hope in an unfamiliar world, one so naturally inclined to be imagined as scary, and yet, this hope is so big it can catch any doubt in its web of stars.
I spent so long attempting to convey the feelings of “Frontier” in words on a screen, but have failed at nearly every attempt. What it might feel like to stare at the surface of a completely foreign planet, a plane of existence. The final drop in this song featuring B-Dos feels like that moment on the rollercoaster right before the feeling of gravity comes tugging down on you. Our friends here feel something so innate pulling them just as strongly into the depths of an unfamiliar world.
We find a definition for “Requiem” in the dictionary as “a solemn chant for the repose of the dead.” Except the chant we find here is torn open midway through this song, filled with not solemnity but pain. Finding answers to questions you never wanted answers to. Ignorance is bliss after all. Bliss though… is non-existent in this after-world Omar has lead his friends into.
Omar faces the skull of his great grandfather in this far-flung world. “Recharged” begins with an all-consuming sorrow that bleeds into an explosion of energy as the cave begins to collapse. There is a disruption, a clatter, a bang, a collapse, a scrambling of feet, and a bloody nose. The last drop in this track feat Blueout, an amalgamation of both. Yet in the face of this monster of emotion, our trio pushes ever onward.
Finally approaching our very Last Chance at Life with Houndtrack now…
“Hi… Hi…!” echoing, again and again, a garbled beacon so loud in an otherwise silent world. There is a search, frantic and out of breath as they blow air into the flames of their hopes. Capshun’s style meshes perfectly with Houndtrack’s on “Illuminate,” bringing you to face the depths of a turquoise pool churning on the ground, the beacon coming directly from it. There is no time for second thoughts, those were all left back on Earth. The water glitters as they plunge in, and find familiar life in a world that only moments before was thought to be a complete stranger.
This next track is the feeling of pushing the body to its absolute limits, pushing it so far beyond what it was that it becomes something more by the sheer power of will. Houndtrack continues to push his limits musically as the deluge of noise in “Havoc” descends upon you, just as paramount dangers rain down upon our fated heroes. A countdown that was never intended to end, a race to save your life, a race to save your only life, a race to save the only life left, every second ticking down, every second ticking faster, every moment moving slower. Searching for a finish line of unknown composition.
Hope finally blossomed, in the form of a literal flower funny enough. Flowers singing almost louder than the beating of your heart, almost indistinguishable from the ringing in your ears.
“They’re going to write books about us,” Kayla said as she plucked a flower petal. “I think we’ll have to help them get here first…” said Omar with an air of worry. The crew still had to find a way to communicate back to their dying planet that a new home had been found... A stark loneliness set in. “What if we never get the message out?” Leo wondered aloud. The three explorers laid back on a bed of crystal blue flowers and stared back towards Earth. Leo’s question drifted away into the atmosphere above. "
The hope we find planted here at the end of this story is simply the beginning of another. Just like the seeds we had discovered buried at the beginning with “Scorched Earth” grew into the experience our heroes found. Houndtrack has created something truly filled to the brim with life here, with his clean music style and crisp sound. A tale fit for retelling after retelling.
Experience the Last Chance at Life by Houndtrack here
Looking for new music? Keep up with our weekly Spotify Playlist, Fresh Hunts. Updated every Friday with all the latest releases. Whether it’s the newest drops from Houndtrack, all your favorite artists, some old-school, or underground…we just want you to hear it.
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