‘Extant’ by oh/ex/oh sounds transmitted from a bleak future or an alternative present, a post-catastrophe earth or one where the Rapture has occurred, with humans entirely or mostly absent. It felt to me like a musical companion to Alan Weisman’s ‘The World Without Us’. The music perfectly mimics this imagined situation. ‘Extant’ evokes ruin and emptiness: an expanse of empty houses, drenched in moon light, reclaimed by urban foxes and birds; a world at peace with itself after the departure of its most destructive tenant.
oh/ex/oh’s arrangements and sound design are stunning. ‘Burners’ has a slowly building hum and radioactive crackle. ‘The Holy Fallout’ is full of static, weird harmonic fluttering, and deep rich bass tones. ‘STS-115’ combines a celestial drone with the chittering of strange insects. ‘The Last Days’ is profoundly beautiful, a heart-stilling cosmic rumble; it feels tidal, like long long lung filling breaths. A pulsing, John Carpenter like drama is introduced with ‘Close Encounter’; an overt riff standing in contrast to the majority of the album’s stasis.
‘Extant’ is packed with awe and wonder; an album to gaze at the stars with; a soundtrack to what comes after the end of days; a long unwavering stare at wide vistas of moss drenched rubble. It is quietly and unassumingly wonderful.