An Ant And An Atom’s Exterior is an interstellar wonder. This Lethbridge, Alberta based artist has escaped our planet on a doomed spacecraft. Through a five-track composition that is Extorior, a journey of galactic survival is portrayed. Unlike other space-themed albums, such as Mogwai’s 2016 Atomic, Exterior distinguishes itself by providing the listener with a greater sense of realism. Rather than emphasizing the spectacle of space, An Ant And An Atom chooses to highlight the magnitude and loneliness of the cosmos.
The album opens with the heavy rhythm of “My Craft Broke At Launch.” The pulsating bass perpetuates a sense of urgency. This intensity is in contrast to the latter half of the song. As, this initial rhythm fades and is replaced by a spacey mechanical tune defined by an unusual hum (perhaps that of a spacecraft). An eerie quietness now rests within the listener’s ears, paving way for the rest of the album.
Soon, however, long drawn out notes slice through this silence. The track, ”The Crush of Gravity,” begins and brings with it a wailing that sounds like unheard sirens. Following this jarring alarm, “Locked In Adrift” opens with a deceivingly peaceful melody that dissolves into an isolated tune adrift amongst steady interstellar winds. Having not truly been in outer space myself, I can only speculate that this accurately captures the essence of cosmic solitude.
The somberness of these first three tracks is carried into the fourth: “I Dreamt Of Reaching Space, But Couldn’t Calculate The Escape Velocity For Reality.” As this song progresses, the listener becomes aware of the dangers and stress of space travel. The dreamy tones that opened the song suddenly escalate into chaos. Just as quickly as it arrived, this harshness cuts away, bridging into ”Heat Up Another Planet, Burn Out Another Sun.” An immediate sense of doom is realised within the first few seconds of this richly layered piece. Immense, it sounds like a train going through a tunnel lost amongst white noise.
For someone who spent the summer rewatching Star Wars, Exterior was a brilliant reminder of the terrible power of the cosmos. Somehow, An Ant And An Atom has managed to sonically render the vast emptiness of space. I recommend Exterior to those who look to the stars with respect and wonder.