Portland’s Koalra pushes their blend of noise rock and shoegaze yet again with their latest LP Into The Everything. This will be their third release this year with the EP Surprise Lights and LP The Wakes released in April and October respectively. In this album we get more ambient soundscapes in line with Surprise Lights, where atmospheric tones and melodies dive into a meditation while flashes of urgency and noise are constantly pulling at the seams. Where hope is trying to prevail in the midst of uncertain odds. A hope that we all undoubtedly strive for in a year that’s been tumultuous in the social and political climate.
The band stretches out their sound yet again with a few touches of 80’s darkwave and krautrock to help highlight the themes and emotions in this album. Soft melodies with glimmering riffs and expansive reverb occupies most of their melodic space while shoegaze textures, atonality and urgent rhythms fill out each track with tension. This is most apparent in the opener “WATER_S PUSH” where screeching riffs and pounding drums disturb an otherwise tranquil and aqueous atmosphere. It captures a moment of bliss, where one looks out to the ocean in a moment of calm, knowing quite well that the waves could soon crash in.
These two opposing forces push each other to varying degrees for each track, turning each one into a roller coaster of tension and release. “SPACE PACE” is more synth-heavy, with grittier noise and wide reverb that stretches out its soaring melodies outside the earth’s orbit.
“THE SCENE” and “KING OF THE DARK” follow the aforementioned darkwave themes. The first is an urgent romp with glimmering tones while the latter is a more subdued meditation with fuzzy shoegaze and a stained-glass atmospheric feel. “THIS POOR GIRL” is fast-paced goth on a carpet of smooth silk with charged particles running through it.
Ironically, “TORTURE” feels the most relaxing track in this collection. The textures are more dimmed and the melodies are bright, with moments of atonality that push the song slightly to the edge. Still, the radiance prevails, leaving the song with a clear glossy finish by the end.
The album closes with an experimental track that’s reminiscent of Radiohead’s OK COMPUTER. NO MORE BUGS finds a small sliver of humanity in a world clogged up with digital noise.
Into The Everything is hope and chaos fighting for dominance, with a resolution as open and as uncertain as our current lives. Nevertheless, hope still remains. It’s a rocky year for all of us, but Koalra ends it on solid footing.