Ian McDonnell, aka Eomac, references Leonard Cohen with the release of his latest album, Cracks. The title refers to “how the light gets in”, but in this case, it seems more like where heat, steam, and lava get out, rupturing forth from the cold, desolate earth.
The past year of isolation meant people lacked many of their usual forms of catharsis. The actions of governments the world over only exacerbated these pent-up emotions, which morphed from fear into frustration as public officials publicly failed in the most inept, craven ways. Coupled with a newfound resurgence against the white supremacist foundations of the modern world, people ache for some sort of shift.
Cracks doesn’t hint so much as portray this fervor breaking free. Instead of a massive eruption, it embodies the signs that precede it: earthen tremors, plumes of gas, heat in the air. Eomac’s work touched upon peoples’ discontent in the past, using it to convey messages where words fail. 2018’s Reconnect utilized a grim, at times monstrous, energy to illustrate the need for a seismic shift.
The pounding, polyrhythmic percussion remains on Cracks, but instead of shocking, unearthly roars and machine-gun tempos, it is accompanied by more natural elements. The sounds are melodic, and sometimes expansive, qualities like flute synths (“What Does Your Heart Tell You?”, “Reasons to Live”), otherworldly chanting (“Canticle”, “Ancient Self”, “Prophetess”), and literal human screaming (“Falling Through the Cracks”).
Part of this organic touch draws from Eomac’s relocation from club capital Berlin to the Irish countryside. With proximity to the mountains and sea, Wicklow reflects in the rumbling echoes of Cracks. It’s techno taken to the air in the form of din carried by the wind from the ocean and nearby Dublin. In this overlap of biology and synthetics lies Eomac, who portrays rebellion as an inevitable, naturally occurring phenomenon not unlike an earthquake or maelstrom.
Cracks examines the world as a whole, a general populace beginning to realize the same political conclusion, that the current state is unsustainable. “That is a mandate for murder. Let’s be clear on that,” Akala declares not ten seconds into the album, a statement Eomac never attempts to rebuff. Who among us, regardless of ideology, could or would dispute the abuses and corruption of most governments? With more folks aware of the world’s injustices, the riff between the masses and ruling classes grows more dissonant. Thus, the emotions evoked here present less immediate danger and more of an ominous, looming threat.
It’s the masses, ultimately, that determine the state of the world, and it’s their force splitting the foundations of Cracks. The listening often happens as if from the vantage of those in power, who see the ripples (“Portuguese Man O’War”) and slowly fall from their roosts (“Falling Through the Cracks”). Rather than see the revolution firsthand, you hear its echoes in the distance, carried by the voice of “Prophetess” or the industrial moans behind the beat of “Portuguese Man O’War”. Many of these sounds repeat themselves, like the creeping flute-synths that flutter among a third of the album’s tracks. And yet, this repetition provides cohesiveness, an important quality when working with such grand, world-shattering implications.