No:carrier – Broken Rainbow

Album rating: 8.1 – Apocalyptic surrealism.

Photo: Courtesy of Independent Music Promotions. From left to right: Lauralee Brown, Scilla Siekmann, Liza Marie Sparks, Chris Wirsig, Cynthia Wechselberger, and Bobby Halvorson

Photo: Courtesy of Independent Music Promotions. From left to right: Lauralee Brown, Scilla Siekmann, Liza Marie Sparks, Chris Wirsig, Cynthia Wechselberger, and Bobby Halvorson

No:carrier is a duo comprised of producer Chris Wirsig and singer Cynthia Wechselberger who formed the band in Germany back in mid-1990s. In 2012, Wirsig relocated to California whereas Wechselberger stayed in Germany; however, the two continued expanding their project and have added more singers from San Francisco (Lauralee Brown, Liza Marie Sparks) and Los Angeles (Scilla Siekmann, Bobby Halvorson). Broken Rainbow is their fourth album and was released on November 11 of this year.

With tiptoeing motion, “Broken Rainbow” opens up the latest no:carrier’s album that evokes – what seems like – an extra dimension into the soundscape. The track feels like walking into a labyrinth where you can’t help but feel the sense of impending doom running into your veins. “Broken Rainbow” is not merely saturated with moodiness, but it’s a song that opens space for your thoughts to navigate through every apocalyptic scenario. And this space is omnipresent throughout the entire record, making it a surreal experience where you glom onto your own pondering while getting carried away to the buzzing electronics.

The follow-up, “Little Death,” delves into the human psyche that is cloaked in enigmatic lyrics, exploring the desire for someone and at the same time wishing the end for the person. “Pleasure and pain, all the potions of life.” There is a constant pairing of opposites, acknowledging the symbiotic relationship between the two throughout the track. This theme applies to “Holy Judas” where no:carrier reminds us the necessity to experience evil to see the good. “Holy Judas” has two distinct soundscapes: it starts off with tension-building, downtempo that quickly spirals into a throbbing intensity at 1:18. It is an unexpected twist, but no:carrier makes this transition work even if it’s limited to a second.

In “Your Heroine,” no:carrier shifts gear by adopting a more emotionally concrete sound where the gospel-like choruses and sliding strings tap into the complex topic of depression. No:carrier further explores the dark layers of human nature in “Alibis,” which emits a Lana-Del-Rey-esque vibe washed in fizzy electronics and rattlesnake-like sound effects. But just like LDR, no:carrier shows a form of acceptance – almost celebratory one – in their track “Here’s To You” (Creep Mix). “Every scar of sorrow on a pretty face / Here’s to the ever-changing title of the human race.” You can imagine such lyrics in an LDR song, where one spots the weakness in beauty and the uncertainty of our existence.

While the cryptic ambiance and howling vocals all build up a poetic darkness most of the times, there are instances when either the vocals get lost in the sound or vice versa. “When The Rain Falls” starts off with a tense dooming air where we expect a buildup, but never get. Instead, the words stretch into an elongated and exhausting tendril of flimsy melody. However, no:carrier quickly redeems with the next track, “The Day I Met You,” which exudes the lingering bound-to-end effect that they’ve been injecting us since the beginning. “The day I met you was a strange day / I should’ve known that it couldn’t last.” The self-saboteur admittance in this track reveals the guilty pleasure of wanting something that won’t last. Despite the gloominess that permeates for its impending end, no:carrier makes you aware of your own hedonistic motivation for getting involved.

No:carrier takes a noir trajectory with their covers of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising” and “The Man Who Drew Cats.” With “Bad Moon Rising,” the band starts with quiet, dramatic beats that skyrocket into showering, rock-level momentums. Their cover rolls on a bipolar cadence where in one second you’re humming along and the next you’re surprised with the showering percussions. “The Man Who Drew Cats” is perhaps the most anti-darkwave track of the record. Although it still has the moody undertones, the rhythmic arrangements has a slight playful and lightness to it. The song is a biographical one based on Louis Wain, a famous illustrator known for his works on anthropomorphic cats.

Broken Rainbow is a record that may feel heavy or too apocalyptic to digest for some, but a progressive one for others who want something outside the overproduced electropop territory. the album feels like a puzzle where you often stumble upon a sudden sense of hope or loss that reveals the distinct emotions and experiences we undergo in the darkest hours.

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