You can’t have your middle finger in the air all the time. As such, Isaac Thotz (The Arrivals) has stepped away from his punk-leaning project to explore spacey 1960’s inspired psychedelia with The Treasure Fleet. The band also includes members of Smoking Popes, The Lawrence Arms, and Sass Dragons and was produced by Preston Bryant of Andrew Jackson Jihad, so there’s that.
After an ambitious debut that was and wasn’t a double album (the records were recorded released at different times, but very close to one another), Treasure Fleet ups the ante with a film and soundtrack project titled The Sun Machine. The soundtrack is standalone in its release, so that’s what you’re reading here.
The record is atmospheric and moody, befitting of a score, but also with clear songs that build alongside a musically-inclined film with an Orwellian sci-fi tone. The tone is personal and first person, rather than Orwell’s third person ever-watching Big Brother, giving sweeping emotion and calm but explorative worldviews that study an oppressive surrounding world.
On the individual song level, the record holds up as a regular release independent of the film, which is ideal with such a release. The opening three tracks are the most impressive, with “Max 1” hitting on much of what the band does best: sparse, spaced out guitar with creeping keyboards that give a sustaining legato as the various textures blend and swirl. This continues into “Max 2,” which is more melodic in nature and sounds of a ‘70s era British sci-fi film. Later, everything pulls together perfectly in the closing song, “A Soft Landing,” a song that builds and fades in companion to the record’s flow as a whole, feeling fully epic while clocking in at a concise 3:33. It has some ethereal Pink Floyd touches, but without the self-importance, and it pairs well to the story told within the entire 32 minute album-soundtrack. Having only witnessed a trailer so far, The Sun Machine feels like a complete package: film and soundtrack, and the tone of the record draws the listener into the story available in another medium. “Sirens of Titan” is probably the dullest point, drifting into an unconscious background, albeit referencing Kurt Vonnegut in title.
The band’s first two releases contained shorter songs with a bit more guitar crunch, and this style isn’t fully abandoned in place of the atmospheric. “The Mushroom Hunt” would fit nicely on their other records and their live show.
As a whole, this isn’t a style I give much listen, but it’s well done and the mood draws me to the film, which should cycle back to this record in turn. Good marketing and good art make a strong pairing, and it’s likely I’ll go see the film when it screens, and that I’ll cycle back to this record throughout the year when I need something atmospheric with a strong emotional pull. While the musicians may be familiar, Treasure Fleet is a new breed, with the only real familiarities coming from the voices at the microphone. But it’s their third record. That shock factor and the band’s sound should no longer matter.
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The Sun Machine, the upcoming third LP from Chicago's The Treasure Fleet, is now streaming in an embed below. The record releases on Feb. 10 via Recess Records and ...
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