Review: Blank Realm – Last Seen (Hobbies Galore, Apr 30)

Last Seen is nothing like what I expected it to be. Based on Australian project Blank Realm’s stylistic trajectory on their last few records, one would probably anticipate a slightly adventurous rock outing with some psychedelic leanings. Instead, Last Seen embraces an almost completely new sound, flirting with a variety of elements from ambient, drone, and electronic music. Fortunately, unlike comparable progressions of other artists, the move toward a less rhythmically grounded style does not result in a directionless mess. The 7 songs balance catchy, synth-inflected pop pieces with lengthy ambient passages, both of which are accomplished remarkably well. The highlight of the record might be the ten minute centerpiece “Revanche,” which evolves from a lush drone into a hazy, psychedelic coda; not only is it an amazing track on its own, but it also serves as a demonstration of the skillful transitions that allow the album to work so well. Last Seen marks an exciting new phase in Blank Realm’s career, and I’m glad that they chose to be inventive and take risks rather than recycle what they know works. It’s an album with a lot of layers that I still have to unravel.