Music

Rabit's Chameleonic Transformations Lead to a Surreal Realm on 'Life After Death'

Photo courtesy of Halcyon Veil via Bandcamp

With Life After Death, Texas producer Rabit once again reinvents his sound and produces a transcendental work of experimental electronic music.

Life After Death
Rabit

Halcyon Veil

5 October 2018

Life After Death is the third record from producer Eric C Burton under the Rabit moniker. Rabit burst into the scene in 2016 with Communion, a work channeling furious experimental industrial motifs and grime progressions. Two years later, Burton returned with a different offering in the abstract Les Fleurs Du Mal. The record saw him perform a deconstructionist reconfiguration of electronic music, leaving behind many of the influences that fueled the infernal sound of Communion for a more minimalistic approach. The album was instead based on drones and expansive soundscapes, which exposed the dystopian, primal and elemental aspect of Rabit.

Burton now returns with his newest offering in Life After Death, a record that is said to be the product of two years worth of experiments in different forms of synthesis. Once again Rabit offer a different perspective of their music, with Life After Death distancing itself from both Communion and Les Fleurs Du Mal.

The predominant factor, in this case, is the experimentalist approach to electronic music, which draws influences from legendary acts like Coil, an aspect that might have rubbed off on Burton from his collaboration with Drew McDowell on Les Fleurs Du Mal. It is a method that brings to mind no-wave aesthetics, as Rabit draws on the rhythmic instability and unusual progression of records like Scatology to form his ideas on tracks like "Spiral". Similarly, the mantra-like repetitions alongside the noise elements further enhance that side of Rabit in "All I Have", as the fleeting sonic moments tell a disturbing story. The producer's deep reconfiguration of electronic music verges on the deconstructive end in the case "Daydream", but it also reveals a sense of twisted playfulness. It results in a plethoric and endearing rendition of ideas and concepts explored in a more abstract and sandbox-like fashion.

Where Communion was explosive and Les Fleurs Du Mal dystopian, Life After Death places itself in the domain of the surreal. The start of "The Quickening" displays this mentality as the strange synths appear to be melting away, much like the clocks in The Persistence of Memory. The crystalline sounds of "V", establishing a dreamlike atmosphere open up a realm of possibilities. It is as if Rabit has projected electronica on a bizarre mirror and capturing the distorted reflections of the individual sounds, gathering the pieces to construct his own interpretation of the genre. The overall quality of the music takes on the characteristic of the ideal soundtrack to the early Alejandro Jodorowsky films, in the likes of El Topo. The Texan desert-like background is reshaped through Rabit's surreal touch, offering sweets drops from reality.

That cinematic quality is more dominant in the case of Life After Death than in Rabit's previous works, and it is able to expose different aspects of the producer's identity. The use of samples is key in adding to the mystique of the record and enhancing its mind-bending qualities. "Spiral" sees this implementation, with Rabit using a hellish sample to start off on this trip before retreating to his ambient, abstract world of psychedelia. The more delicate edge of the record sees this cinematic quality tilt towards a dreamscape approach, with tracks like "Dream" offering a minimalist, subtle rendition. The crystalline sounds of "IX (Regret)" reveal a further layer of this mentality, arriving with a more pensive progression but retaining the same immersive quality.

However, there are also moments that plunge into much darker places, as is the case with "6 Devil", seeing Rabit project his vision through an infernal lens. The slow progression meets with the pitch-shifted samples, adding to the disturbing quality of the track. The sound effects cause the track to revert to a strange point of origin, feeling as if they cause time itself to rewind, while the bells in the distance add to this ceremonial ambiance. Similar is the case with "Blue Death" as Rabit uses string-like synths and brutal samples (including screams and gunshots) to create a hostile and destructive environment by means of sonic dissonance.

Life After Death sees Rabit once again mix things up and explore a very different, creative side than what we have experienced in Communion or Les Fleurs Du Mal. Through the duration of the record, the producer presents a surreal cinematic vision fueled by his experimental ethos and influenced by diverse influences. A listen to "III" will convince you of the brilliance of this work, as chaotic sound designs mutate into a strange combination of operatic vocal samples, neo-classical leanings, and futuristic progressions. It is amazing to see what Burton has achieved in such a small fragment of time, and his chameleonic tendencies make it even more intriguing to see what he can do next.

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