EXEK - "THE MAP AND THE TERRITORY" LP
LULUS: It would be incorrect to say that EXEK are 'back at it again' because they never actually stop. And just when you think you have all the answers they change the questions. They're one of those bands who, no matter how much their sound or volume changes, their identity and style is apparent no matter what. It's always unmistakably EXEK.
In a press release for the album it's stated that The Map And The Territory is "perhaps less ambitious than some previous EXEK releases" but I'm not certain I can agree. If Metallica were to whittle their sound down to a broomstick and an acoustic guitar would that be unambitious? I leave it for you to answer. And while I cannot hear any broomsticks, the new album from EXEK is certainly a stripping back of the elements. Their trademark meticulously interwoven layers are still there to sink into but some of the bombast has been replaced with humility, or at the very least a humblebrag, because no matter how stripped back and quaint it sounds at times it's dripping with some astonishing feats of songwriting prowess.
To completely oversimplify for a moment; if you dig EXEK then you'll love these songs. To quickly recomplicate matters I'll take you on a brief philosophical wandering: a map is a depiction of a terrain or territory. It places the terrain into an easily digestible piece of visual information and it serves its purpose. But the map is not the territory. How can it be? It's a representation but it isn't the real thing. Does it contain some essential trace of the real thing? Probably, yes. This essence is the thing that continues to fascinate thinkers and artists since the dawn of thought and expression. EXEK continues to unpack, reconfigure and redraw the map in their own image. The Map And The Territory brings the band back to exploring their own essence. They undoubtedly realise that at the end of the day, it's just another map. And though it must not be mistaken for the terrain, at least it's their map. And it may just lead you to very real territory.
FOREIGN RECORDS: Australian sextet EXEK return with their sixth studio album, The Map and the Territory. Self-recorded throughout 2021 to 2022, frontman Albert Wolski describes it as ‘‘perhaps less ambitious than some previous EXEK releases. In a positive way, obviously’’. Comprising of eight tracks, there is a greater focus on song craftsmanship, where elongated jams play second fiddle to choruses and hooks. These new tracks will translate effectively into a live environment, and are destined to quickly become set favourites. And yes of course, the iconic EXEK album soundmarks remain ever present - dubbed out drums, guitar’s that sound like robot’s from Forbidden Planet, and deep synths that recall The Idiot.
EXEK once again stay true to their trademark recording process - one of endless overdubs, allowing for maximal control whilst editing. Lots and lots of edits. Drummer Chris Stephenson would perform a collection of beats, that would then be sampled, and therefore plant the seed for ideas for songs. Seamstress Requires Regular Breaks might be the best example of this, where fluid jazz-funk drumrolls morph into a rigid post-punk march, and then back again, and then back again. But the funk doesn’t stop there. Welcome to my Alibi and Glow of Good Will pick up where 90’s hip-hop and R&B left off - smooth and sexy and a little bit dangerous. On the flip side of the dynamic spectrum, The Lifeboats and It’s Just a Flesh Wound, Darling sit facing towards the group’s more loud motorik arsenal. On EXEK’s latest offering, both the map and the territory are equally balanced.
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