Time travel is real, apparently. Intersystems released a handful of futuristic, forward thinking albums back in the ‘60s before taking the wormhole back where they came from. Now, nearly 50 years after their last album, as the world disintegrates, they return. Unsurprisingly, #4 exists in a timeless void, sounding simultaneously contemporary and totally beyond this plane.
Sonically, Intersystems mine rich fields of library music inspired electronics, sparse and enchanting. Through minimal yet affecting synthesis, John Mills-Cockell creates rich, textural spaces that are minefields of tension and freedom. His compositions are impossible to categorize, whipping between styles in the blink of an eye, completely unconcerned with anything but building bizarre worlds from an infinite array of tones. An electronic zap here, a muted arpeggio there, maybe some static sculpted into angular sonic mountains; nothing is left on the table. It’s dizzying trying to keep track of all the caustic sounds, but eventually you’re assimilated into the network and, as it begins flowing through your veins, it makes sense.
Where #4 really gets fantastically weird, though, is through the computerized recitations created by William Blakeney of Blake Parker’s words. At times the voices are realistic enough that you are fooled, though a tiny slip here and there adds to the eerie feelings throughout. Parker’s poetry is a highlight, poached in a psychedelic stew with lines like “The X-Ray animals shine out of the rocks. Their hearts try to stay inside of their skin lines,” on the desert vibes of “X-Ray Animals.” Vivid worlds are built with Parker’s words, augmented by the synthetic realities Mills-Cockell weaves beneath, creating a dark, discomforting place where you feel stranded.
I’m thrilled these guys got back together to put #4 into the world. It sounds unlike anything else I’ve heard before and is the aural equivalent of insects crawling on your skin. Unpleasant as that may sound, Intersystems create visceral listening experiences that transport you into netherworlds. It’s good to feel uncomfortable sometimes because inside the darkness we find new pieces of ourselves. #4 is one wild ride.