Music can often times be very confined. When you experience music, you are constantly reminded that you are cut off from it, that there is a dividing line between you and what you are listening to. Headphones remind you that you are listening to a piece of history, something that is firmly set in the past. A barrier at a concert reminds you that you are a punter and are not welcome near either music or musician. Music makes a guest of you but stresses that you keep your distance. Even those musicians that bare all, be it in the recording studio or on the stage, keep themselves behind a protective glass. It can be like watching a peep show of raw emotions. Then, sometimes an artist comes along and tosses the barricade to one side, urging you to come inside and make yourself comfortable, and that unsettles you.
Hailing from Allentown, Pennsylvania, The Last Surrealist doesn’t so much as create art to be stared at, but to be participated in. From start to finish, Post Life Music burdens you with the weight of a very heavy heart delivered in a decorative wrapping. Beautiful soundscapes and harsh sonic assaults are vehicles for incredibly passionate and introspective lyrics that are both personal to the artist and listener alike. This is, quite simply, a record that opens up and bleeds all over you, and it asks you to drink.
Album opener, “In The Morning Our Bodies Will Be Nothing,” sounds like a mission statement for the rest of the hour long experience, its cooling waves of synth coalesce with morose whispers and tortured gasps. The element of surprise is also a theme with this record, as the hip-hop style beats of “The Gun Is Perched Between My Teeth” catch you off guard as they drive the darkwave and acoustic sounds forward. A black metal tirade blasts its way through to a calm drone on “Eyes Wide Open,” and that gentleness continues on into “To Kiss My Beloved With Eyes Wide Shut.”
The second half of the record is like something of a comedown after a powerful high, with many forlorn ambient pieces cooling the air that the fire had wrought havoc upon. As a vocalist, The Last Surrealist has a respectable cannon of vocal techniques to draw from, be it harsh screaming, clean harmonies, or sickly spoken-word passages. An air of schizophrenia is established as he skips between vocal deliveries throughout the recording, and you never know which one you’ll get at any given time. Even in his silence, you can hear his voice in every sorrowful key and note.
Essentially, Post Life Music does everything it claims that it is going to do before you’ve heard the second track. Though it might come across on paper as the emblematic ambient or darkwave record, this release actually divorces itself from those labels simply by being what it is, hideously naked. This is a record that invites you to share in sorrow, and if you accept that invitation, you won’t be long about feeling as though you are intruding.