A cinematic soundscape evoking themes of loneliness, alienation and sometimes despair “Last Man Alive / Empty Worlds” is the sixth studio double album from Melbourne based musician ANGELTHEORY.
After the success of 2015’s ‘Psychonaut’, the 2018 hotly anticipated release of “Last Man Alive / Empty Worlds” is less a concept album and more a full on exploration of the outer limits of the human psyche.
Continuing with a sci-fi theme, the album is loosely based upon the 1985 post apocalyptic New Zealand film ‘The Quiet Earth’.
Strong on arrangement and texture, the opening track “King Of Nothing” sets the mood with slow and unsettling undulating bleeps and echoes that lead you in to a bottomless chasm.
A low whispering distant voice grows closer only to caution “I don’t want anyone here..” before surging to that familiar undeniable ANGELTHEORY sound – pounding beats and sweeping synths guaranteed to fill a dance floor in 60 seconds.
“The sound of waves” takes the tempo down with a melancholic kaleidoscopic of bass and pulsing chords shifting “lying here beneath the sea..”. The vocals drift and echo.”I don’t know where I’m going” – at this point nor do we, but we’re suspended in a time-stretched dystopian melody, deeply submerged in the ebb and flow of ambient bass and futuristic synth.
The title track “Last Man Alive” although driven by the bass, makes use of interesting percussion and digital skips and loops to further the story. Things are getting darker, but by this stage of the album we already have a flavour of where we’re headed.
At times wistful, and intense, the slow tempo builds again in “Nothing’s Changed”, gradually levelling out in “Hurricane” which leads us menacingly into a solemn retrospective pitted with emotive rhythm and oscillating beats.
There’s a strong bitter sweet quality to this album, but despite its melancholic overtones there exists a richly textured and complex body of work that cleverly explores universal themes and fears about human existence, particularly poignant in these uncertain times.
“The Quiet Earth” and “Running (standing still)” contemplative and ambient, simultaneously explore the concepts of existing in the solitary. Echoing feelings of abandonment and isolation, both these tracks are complimented by an almost hypnotic soundtrack worthy of any dystopian nightmare.
The stories within each track weave in and out creating soundscapes and landscapes, conjuring up futuristic images and nostalgic flashbacks of times past.
Stand out tracks “Light in the Darkness” and “Displaced” provide a charged and powerful blend of samples and layered tones of shifting melody and smooth vocals, whilst “A drowning Man” culminates in a unique climatic experience.
The second half of the album (this is a double C.D.) further expands upon the story with a backdrop of disquieting but exceptional ambient tracks allowing for supremely blissful moments caught in time.
There are hugely uplifting tracks breaking though within this album leaving you with a lasting feeling of having been on a journey.
You may not know quite where or who with, and although perhaps a departure from his more well known floor stompers “Last Man Alive / Empty Worlds” is classic ANGELTHEORY – moving, poignant, stirring, touching if not somewhat detached, it’s A/T at his very best.
“Last Man Alive / Empty Worlds” Out October 11th 2018 on NoHorizon Recordings.
Available as double CD format and digital download via bandcamp and the ANGELTHEORY website.
Photo credits: Charles Fenech
Album Artwork: Grant Cook
ANGELTHEORY Official Site