(review by Erich B. Heider)
U.K. based band Latitudes has made what may be the most interesting concept album I’ve heard this year. Then again, it could all be a coincidence. You see, the title, Individuation, may be referring to the Jungian idea of the formation of an singular identity, separate from others, and the process of doing so. This can go pretty deep, as Jung was just the beginning. Check it out. In my opinion, Individuation is a sonic exploration of this process.
At the first few listens i wasn’t too into Individuation. In fact, i was going to slag this release. Fortunately I gave it another couple listens, and it grew on me in a major way, especially when i connected the dots to the (maybe) concept.
Sonically, although they are described as “Atmospheric Sludge Metal,” there is no sludge to be heard. This ends up being a great thing, as the musicianship shines through in ways that would have been buried under megalithic riffage. That’s not to say that there isn’t good metallic banging here, but it is fairly deftly entwined with some beautiful atmospheric and a surprisingly progressive edge that makes Individuation stand out. There are even some Black Metal influences, such as well done tremolo picking, and a majestic quality to a number of the riffs. Think of a simpler early Cynic.
While the production is good, the dynamics could be better, and that would have served the more atmospheric sections better. This lack of dynamics also tends to lend the same sound to every song that, while painting a coherent picture of the band’s sound, detracts from the “standout” moments. This is another reason for the repeated listening equation.
On the topic of standouts we have some pluses and minuses. The vocals, which are very sparse, tend towards the croony, and often falsetto. Frankly, they stick out like a purple elephant, even though they are fairly quiet in the mix. These vocals will turn some people off right away. Give it some time, and they do eventually end up sitting well, but they certainly aren’t for everyone.
On the plus side, The tempo changes are well done, and tracks like “Islewards,” and “Shapeshifting” are served very well by this. “Metabolic Pathways” has a great bunch of switch ups, especially during the pink floydish organ sounds. This track is certainly special. It seems that the whole album slowly evolves to a more complex entity the deeper into the tracklist one goes. Another notable plus is that Individuation ends perfectly, with “Individuation (telos)” which encapsulates the vibe of the whole album deftly and charmingly.
Although Latitudes is already a few albums deep into their musical career, this seems to be a bit of a maturation for them, and it works well. Nowhere near the sludge of before, I would more classify this as “Dark Neo-Prog, with Atmospheric overtones.” Genre labels suck as a rule, but are a necessary evil when reviewing.
Individuation is a compelling, and surprisingly deep work. The caveat is that some of the, ahem, individual elements that make up this whole may be detractions to some. All in all I think that, upon repeated listens, one will find this album very rewarding, and I look forward to where Latitudes will explore next.
Availabe for $6.99 at or more at Bandcamp:http://shelsmusic.bandcamp.com/album/individuation-2