6wx_o: Breakthroughs in End Theory ★★★★  | [Self-released; March 25]

The year is 2079 and globalized society as we know it has collapsed. A kind of suicide pill has been invented that allows users to abandon their corporeal selves and upload their consciousness to the metaverse. Those who stay behind, known as “Earthers,” resort to homesteading in remote parts of the globe.

This is the narrative concept behind Breakthroughs in End Theory, Carrboro electronic artist Will Brooks’s first full-length album as 6wx_o, an enthralling cycle of ambient synth pieces which will be released on March 25, following last year’s self-titled EP. T

he songs on this album are culled from three different sources: live scores of sci-fi films, improvisations from a techno set, and compositions for a performance at the Raleigh venue Ruby Deluxe (from which the last track, “Breathing Song,” is taken).

Probing, more rhythmic, and darker in tone than last year’s EP, each of the songs documents an aural response to a multisensory experience, exposing the interpretative gaps, contingencies, and near equivalencies that exist between sense and reason. “Idle Hands,” “Pillz,” and the three-part “Song for the Metaverse” all bear the thematic presence of isolated digital spheres. Taken from a livestream Brooks did for Palacio Palace, a virtual music venue based in LA, these quick-fire note clusters were re-recorded at a much slower tempo and drawn together with a soft edge of padding and white noise.

The remaining tracks were composed while watching muted sci-fi, including the Ridley Scott films Alien, Legend, and Blade Runner, and Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men (which also features a suicide drug). From this heightened perception of the image, Brooks crafts an alternative accompaniment: sketches of the unseen threads that link perception, backstory, and setting.

By nature of its form, the instrumental concept album presents a unique puzzle for listeners. Much of Brooks’s world-building is not explicitly present in his compositions. Rather, the album’s synth-laden soundscapes immerse listeners in narrative abstractions (mood, sequence, tone) and leave the particulars up to them. 

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