Forget Progress, Return to Instinct
The New Slave
Release Date: Jan 11, 11
You only get one shot to make a first impression, or so they say. With Northern California’s The New Slave, their latest breaking-boundaries album Forget Progress, Return to Instinct opens immediately cluing you in to a ride that won’t be much like any other experience you’ve had listening to an album as of late. Between the radio waves tuning in and out, it’s like you’re falling into a Y2K version of a Bowie epilepsy. It’s the sound of an 80s film about the future with the taste of old gum – it makes you uncertain. A definite high point of the album.
Only a couple tracks after opening does the uncertainty seem to lift. “Turn the Day Into the Night (Let the Right One In)” has a sort of commercial road trip feel to its opening – the first chords bizarrely remind me of Sheryl Crow’s “Soak Up the Sun.” But then you’re taken on a strange twist of events as the track becomes a modern Pink Floyd command to break free from restriction before slipping into a time-lapsing electronic solo.
Uplifting you from any trance-like slump from the previous track, “1975” begins sounding very much like No Age’s “Fever Dreaming” if it were slowed down, playing in a basement on Mars, sounding very British. Not bad. Then enter sounds akin to an arcade space-shooter game, throw in some electric organs, and you may just get flashback visuals of Napoleon Dynamite settings. And then it ends abruptly as if you just completed something epic. Whether or not is debatable.
“Pharmaceutical Son” picks up with a strong reversion back to that 70s feel, asking “where does the sunshine come from?” with some gentle guitar plucking and light drums. Is this a drug anthem? Probably. But it’s a tune reminiscent of Blind Melon’s “No Rain,” only here he ends up finding the joy of the sun via “just two pills” on his bad day.
After buoyant grooviness comes a surprisingly toned down middle to the album, on “Mind Bomb.” From the quiet and mysterious start comes the lines “I walk through your dreams./ I feel emotion/ but I feel like a creep/ every time I read your heart or see/ what you see in your dreams.” Then lift off in an explosive Ziggy Stardust scorned-love ballad. The sweetest things on Forget Progress are also the shortest.
“Hex” opens in a slow and inviting sound, keeping it steady even when it picks up. It’s like in the movie Moon when Sam decides he’ll shoot himself back down to Earth in an empty storage capsule. “I have no fear,” says the voice in the background of the track. It’s the voice of a space pioneer. Or a heroic astronaut saving the planet. Or a twenty-something-year-old late at night on the verge of a life-altering decision. The sounds that follow are the brain waves of said decision.
The track of the same name as the album starts feeling like you’re waiting on line for entrance into New York City’s Mars 2112 – here is the album’s low point, that the futuristic feel is too cliche and stereotypical. Nevertheless, it lulls you into a still state of trance. Almost waiting for something. Then the unintelligible voice comes and suddenly the music picks up and it starts to billow creepily like wind in a scary Halloween scene.
You can launch into space, full of uncertainty and defiance, by downloading the album for free here.