Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Neon Indian - Era Extrana

Neon Indian's new album is actually called Era Extraña, but in case the accented n causes you any web browser issues, we're going to call it Era Extrana. OK? OK, it's a deal.

Now that's out of the way, we can worry about the music. Only, with Era Extrana, there's not much to worry about. It has all the hallmarks of that music designed to send your brain into an alpha-wave rhythm.

If you've never heard of that, it's music you're supposed to listen to on headphones, that directly influences your thought patterns, putting you into a dreamlike state, or a heightened creative state.

Era Extrana has a similarly mellowing-out effect, but without needing the headphones. In fact, I'd say it deserves to be played aloud, to appreciate the nuances of the chilled vocals and electronically charged instrumentals.

Era Extraña - Neon Indian

High Points

As usual, I find the start of Era Extrana to be one of the highs. Heart: Attack fills the room with sound instantly, creating a Neon-Indian-authored atmosphere that envelops the listener. It's little more than a prologue to everything that follows, but strong enough to stand alone. Those of you who still like to buy albums, rather than individual download tracks, might be happy to hear that the tracks of Era Extrana run into one another nicely, avoiding any awkward silences in what is a throughly absorbing cacophony of sound.

Also early in the album, Hex Girlfriend is a brilliant and very pretty melodic composition that is at once both modern and classic, harking back to the ambient astronomical sounds of the 1970s. Think Hawkwind at their soaring, supersonic best, and you've got it.

The Verdict

There's a lot of sound on this album, but I wouldn't call it noise. Some people might, though, so it's worth previewing a few of the tracks before buying - nobody wants you to have a headache in an hour's time.

Personally, I've always found it really uplifting when music has enough substance to shut out the world. Era Extrana creates a world of its own, either just for you via your headphones, or for a roomful of people via a decent set of speakers.

There's something else here, too, something abstract that I can't quite put my finger on. It's as though pausing the CD, or MP3, or whatever, puts that entire virtual world on hold. Pressing play again isn't just like starting the music back up, it feels like a homecoming - as though that world of sound has been awaiting your return.

It's a feeling not unlike sleeping in your childhood bed during a visit to your folks in the house where you grew up - and there aren't many warmer feelings than that.

Final Score: 84%

Era Extraña - Neon Indian

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