We often talk of albums being adventures, consisting of several tracks that, while not necessarily all aligned thematically or philosophically, still can take you somewhere and transport you to a different mind-set. When an album’s over, you should feel like you took a trip somewhere or traveled over huge peaks and valleys on the band’s melodies and creations.
Not every band is able to achieve that with a single album. Often there are lulls that take you out of adventure mode and make you wonder if we’re there yet. There can be filler songs here and there that take away from the greater whole and compel you to hit the next button so you can find a morsel more to your liking. But how about bands that take the daring move of creating an album that consists of just one track? They don’t give you the luxury of sifting ahead to see what future chapters hold, because there aren’t any. You’re here, for better or worse, and you either have taken the entire journey or just shoot off and abort the mission.
Metal’s not exactly flooded with great one-track metal albums, though there are a few good ones. Sleep’s “Jerusalem” (or “Dopesmoker,” as it’s better known), is the holy grail of these types of projects, while other bands such as Agalloch, U.S. Christmas, Meshuggah, and Kayo Dot have come up with pretty strong releases that are comprised of just one song. Now another album has entered the conversation, that being Lesbian’s mammoth, weird, savage “Forestelevision,” a vision that really requires you to pay attention and psyche out along with them for maximum enjoyment. But it’s also an album that, while it all exists in one track, has tons of twist, turns, and changes that it could have been broken up into movements if the band so desired. Yet Lesbian stuck with the one-track idea, and the experience is all the better for it. I’ve listened to this thing countless times now, and each time, I notice different things, see different colors, and get to know it in a way I hadn’t before. It’s really an awesome display of creativity.
Lesbian is a four-piece band that hails from Seattle and formerly recorded for labels such as Important and Holy Mountain, before landing with Translation Loss for “Forestelevision.” The band is comprised of bassist/vocalist Dorando Hodous, guitarists Arran McInnis and Daniel La Rochelle, and drummer, Benjamin Thomas-Kennedy, and they’ve been making out-there noises and compositions for nearly a decade now. This record is their most accomplished and ambitious to date, and as you may have figured, their most intense and satisfying to date. It’s their best album by a long shot, and it’s going to take a hell of an effort to top this in the future. Not that Lesbian aren’t totally capable of doing so.
“Forestelevision” opens up with a Sunn 0)))-like drone dirge that rumbles and simmers in place, letting the track take some time before it really starts to rumble. Weird keyboards and gurgly growling erupt, and the track slips into fearsome territory like it’s trying to shake you up early and get inside your head. Funeral doom smoke rises as the band slithers along the path to doom glory, but about 10 minutes into the song, the pace kicks up, melodies start to soar, and a psychedelic wash slides over everything. Guitars slip to a trickle, strings make their presence known, and the song goes into a mesmerizing, Far Eastern-style swell of relaxation and tranquility. But, as you may guess, that serenity is short lived.
Suddenly shrieks and growls blow out of a prog-death-fueled assault that is the most threatening section of the 44-minute song. That storm sticks around for a while, and the dark clouds seem like they’re planning on spending generations above your head. The music keeps trucking along, but eventually it dissipates into a cleaner portion that again hints at prog rock. We keep floating along on that wavelength until about eight minutes remain, when things get a little weird. The song explodes again, but in a way it never has before, with the guys sounding like they’re channeling classic-era Mercyful Fate. The vocals are at a glorious high, the guys thrash away, and the song reaches classic metal glory. The song never dies down again, and the fellows keep the tempo and the fury strong as the song eventually slips away.
It’s not easy to put together a one-song album that’s as exciting and compelling as this one. In fact, because so few bands try it, it’s not easy to pull off, period. But Lesbian do so expertly, making “Forestelevision” one of the year’s most noteworthy releases simply for that reason but also because it’s so damn good. This is an experience you’ll likely want to be part of again and again because it’ll take several sojourns to absorb the whole thing. You can do so with a straight frame of mind, a little iced over, or however you choose, but one way or another, you’re going to have one bizarre, killer time.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lesbian-the-band/218998164805294
To buy the album, go here: http://translationloss.com/store.htm
For more on the label, go here: http://www.translationloss.com/