he curious irony of the “far out” is that it’s often as much about the innate as it is about the truly alien. Of course, that’s the kind of mindfuck non-sense Excepter trades in. Employing analog drones, snatches of quasi-industrial beat fractals, long stretches of steaming silences, and forming like fields of disparate bubbles and gargles slowly melding together, Excepter is the sound of cave paintings being made with laser beams, or the photographic negative of a beach, a dream at some slick midnight.
There’s a nagging sense in their music of some mysterious event transpiring, but an event whose evasive reasoning is an endless smoke-and-mirrors show, some stuttering magic you weren’t meant to decipher. The point and play, then, is to burrow into the band’s shtick and hang on like a tick in fur: while you don’t know exactly where you are, you can still appreciate being there.
I’m tickled to wank academic and invoke Freud’s “The Uncanny,” an essay regarding the idea of the deeply familiar masquerading as the unfamiliar (in one instance, a doppelganger is both an assurance of immortality and some weird siren that you have ceased to exist, whoa). Of course, I wouldn’t drag it in to their primordial ooze/cosmic slop if they didn’t do it themselves. Throne’s four tracks—“Jrone (Three),” “Jrone (Two),” “The Heart”, and “(The Ass)”—suggests movement through a human body recast as an otherworldly void. Start somewhere other than the beginning, take one step back, move to the metaphorical core, and then head for the “exit.” “(The Ass)” is heralded by a trip into digital waste, scrawling undulations of nasty computer noise eventually smoothed out into a growing ambience, until the sounds of wind and birds emerge clearly. “I must have come from somewhere,” you think. If the first five minutes of faux-séance incantations, soft-sizzle synth drones and echoing bells didn’t drive you to the stop button, that’s where the Excepter riddle begins. The metaphor or suggestion of the body is disorienting, but there is something hauntingly natural about the way the album evolves; it nags you to return but rarely offers a glimpse of an answer.
What one can feel in Throne is the sensation of watching a picture; over time, you realize that in fact the picture wasn’t what you had originally assumed, but something completely different, only out-of-focus. And Throne doesn’t ever really focus, it only moves through a series of blurry moments. Truly psychedelic, the effect of the constant act of focusing is to corner you in the present moment, however inscrutable. Peaks and plateaus only really click as they morph into something else. Bridges turn out to be ladders, windows turn into doors—the music never truly arrives or makes a point. The opening gambit of “Jrone (Three)” is the one line that could possibly sum up Throne’s irreducible process/key locked inside its own safe vibe: “It’s not a simple formula, it only is mine.”
Throne’s glaring drawback is that it asks a lot of a listener (after dispensing with any pretensions about the frequent bullshitting of the genre itself)—it’s a blueprint, not a house. Plenty of people think using psychedelics is dangerous and pointless. Plenty of people think that the beauty of the subconscious is that it’s constantly under the functioning level of the ego, running on autopilot, so why the hell should we bother to worry about it? They’re entitled. Throne works if you let it. Excepter is experiential, that’s their burden and their distinction. If you prefer walking in grid streets in broad daylight to the desert at night, don’t bother. Throne follows its own clock. When you want it, it’s there, a throbbing oddity all its own.