Album Review: Dead Letter Circus – “Aesthesis”

Album Review: Dead Letter Circus – “Aesthesis”

Album: Aesthesis
Band: Dead Letter Circus
Location: Brisbane, Queensland
Twitter: @deadlettercircu
Date of Release: 14th August, 2015
Label: UNFD
Genre: Progressive Rock
Reviewer: Erised (abuse me on twitter @Giaccattack)
For Fans Of: Karnivool, The Butterfly Effect

“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.” – Aldous Huxley

Perception is everything. It is ubiquitous, yet esoteric; omnipresent, yet insular. Just as a rainbow is an intensely personal experience shared by everyone, and no-one, so too is the appeal of Progressive Rock. It is that unique genre which perfectly embodies the juxtaposition between complexity and mass appeal, baser urges, and cerebral appreciation. To the untrained ear, it can appear clouded, cluttered with extraneous ideas surplus to the traditional requirements of your standard four-chord rock song. But, to those possessed of a more refined musical palette, it is a lucid technicolour dream composed of dancing melodies, and the wax and wane of intricate time signatures. In Aesthesis, Brisbane’s Dead Letter Circus have crafted a multi-faceted gem that, depending on your vantage point, will show you a different colour with each listen. Opening the doors of perception, as it were, is but the first step …

Given that Dead Letter Circus have been an institution in the Australian Progressive Rock scene for around a decade or so now, I probably don’t need to tell everyone how amazing Kim Benzie’s voice is, or how perfectly Luke Williams’ delectable drumming suits the instrumentation facilitated by newish guitar duo, Clint Vincent and Luke Palmer (2013 and 2015 arrivals, respectively). What I do need to do, however, is arrest an oft put forward perception (there’s that word again) that I’ve seen all too frequently, particularly since the release of Aesthesis‘ rather ambitious predecessor The Catalyst Fire in 2013. It is my belief that they have not been particularly well served by unfair comparisons to Australia’s other major Prog exports, namely Karnivool and The Butterfly Effect. Aesthesis has a decidedly more polished, poppy veneer than you would traditionally associate with Dead Letter Circus, and with Karnivool heading into ever more ambitious directions musically, and The Butterfly Effect on an “indefinite hiatus”, it would appear that the time is right for the Brisbane 5-piece to ascend the throne and chart success in their stead.

That being said, there is still enough spacey, ambient fare to keep even the most ardent fans happy. I think it’s fair to say that in the context of the JJJ listener-ship, DLC fans would rank among the more hipster of them. For example, I’m willing to bet that if you are reading this review as an existing fan, you’re currently sitting in Chapter One, telling your best friend all about Aldous Huxley, as you surreptitiously read his Wikipedia bio on the tinted screen of your MacBook Air out of the corner of your heavy-rimmed, oversized glasses which don’t even have prescription lenses. And that’s not a bad thing! By and large, hipsters have far more dollars than sense, and if this wonderfully balanced Progressive Pop – if I can be so bold as to suggest a new Genre – album is to act as a lure for some of that bank, then it will be richly deserved.

Overall, this is an engaging listen from start to finish. If tracks like In Plain Sight, While You Wait,X and Change The Concept are the highlights, then it is only marginally, as the talented troupe utilise an expert awareness of dynamics to create an authentic ebb and flow via excellent bridging tracks like Silence and outright ball tearers like The Burning Number. There is nothing even approaching filler; form and function operate in symbiosis. I have a feeling that we will all be hearing plenty from these guys, especially with a national tour coming up. Stay tuned, indeed!

Vocals: 10/10
Guitars: 8/10
Bass: 9/10
Drums: 9/10
Production: 10/10
Lyrics: 10/10
Songwriting: 9/10
Overall IPHYB Rating: 9/10
Enjoyment Factor: 9/10

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Album Review: Dead Letter Circus – “Aesthesis”
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