Throne is a difficult album to parse--even after repeated listens. It is in many ways a completely paradoxical work, sounding dense and impenetrable while also being startlingly spacious and expansive. I have owned the album for about a year and a half and it took me about nine months to get into it. For the past nine, I've listened to it almost everyday.
Jrone (Three), the first track, opens at twilight with Caitlin Cook doing her best sybill impression. Her singing, like the rest of music, is deceptively complex, utilizing echo box and delay to tease out her voice's interesting nuances. Like a siren, she draws the listener deeper and deeper into the music. After Cook's prophesying, Jrone (Two) turns into a slow-motion free-fall, focusing on incremental mutations in sound. The sonic palette is consistently dark with synth noises, bass drones, and a simple, violent drum pattern. The interweaving sounds are narcotic as they pull in and out of focus. Drum machine pulses are slowly sculpted out of the ether as John Fell Ryan (?) intones over a turgid, permutating bass figure and abstracted moans. After the hypnosis of Jrone (Two), the music locks into The Heart Beat's lumbering groove. Gloomy utterances give way to throbbing synthesizers streaming across a hi-hat pattern until it becomes a blissed-out orgy of sound, the album's most overt climax. (The Ass) ushers in the denouement, whistling loops and hi-hat fragments from the previous track mixed with sound recordings of birds, church bells, a car horn, a train, objects moving overhead (a distant plane?) and emptiness. It is the antidote to the intensely hallucinatory experience of the previous three tracks, like waking up in the harsh morning light to city sounds after a drug-fueled night with its share of out-of-body experiences.
This is difficult to music to write about. Indeed, I think Excepter enjoys being a bit inscrutable. Well, in this case, it works. The music, though far from accessible, is compelling. It sounds like it can be understood and, yet, what is it exactly? For those expecting clear parts, chord changes, harmonies etc, this may not be the music for you. And, unlike other work by Excepter, Throne is mostly lacking in humor and that's a good thing. After Cook and Martin left the band (I definitely miss Cook's contributions), Ryan has come front and center and given free-rein to his more impish impulses. Excepter's other albums and EPs are all worth hearing, no doubt, but Throne is the band's most intense, cohesive album.