Many of my favorite reviews here at Black Metal & Brews are the ones in which I can’t simply describe an artist or band by the genre in which they are working, but am instead forced to really hone in on the experience of listening and absorbing somebody’s creative work. When faced with the task of writing about the self-titled debut from Chile’s Ascendente, I am in such a delightful (and baffling) position. These oddball experimental rockers feature members of Un Festin Sagital, whose music is hard enough to describe, but in a way this is an even broader and more demanding listen than anything from their companion project.
In order to properly describe the strangely fulfilling arc of Ascendente, one would need to do more than just a track by track summary, but actually delve into things on a minute scale. Since that’s a really boring way of approaching things, I’d rather share my impressions on a broader scale and let you sit with the embedded link to the album above and come to your own conclusions. Ascendente is a band capable of wearing many masks with equal capacity, although much of the album’s strength lies in its more “progressive” take on raw post-punk attitude and sound. From song to song it’s nearly impossible to give a name to what Ascendente is doing but there are common threads running throughout, from the breathy and bizarre, occasionally pained vocal delivery to a lumbering pace that keeps the band from coming entirely uprooted and wayward.
At times, the otherworldly wanderings of acts like Shub Niggurath (no, not the death metal band) come to mind, while sometimes the density and tension remind me of the more raucous and straightforward moments of The Boredoms’ earlier works, yet neither of these are accurate comparisons in anything other than energy and attitude. The ghostly presence as the artists float through their own songs is something to be experienced, not described, and the noise-driven ambiance that occasionally cuts in sounds like it would be at odds with the band’s songwriting yet it sits so perfectly in the space. The collage of influences could easily seem like the band is trying too hard or forcing things into improper places, yet it’s clearly an effortless endeavor. This is not always an easy listen, but it’s one with enough gripping moments to warrant the thorough examination that will allow Ascendente to really blossom. It’s 2015 and progressive music needs to stop aping the sounds that were progressive forty years ago. If the tumultuous and lightly trodden path walked on Ascendente reflects even a sliver of the future of what it means to be progressive, then the future is bright indeed.