Experimental music and the esteemed city of Seattle are about as intertwined as cities and genres can be, with the genre of grunge exploding out of the Pacific Northwest back in the early ‘90s as a response to mainstream pop and punk, and then the modern indie genre spawning out of the wreckage of that — for extraterrestrial noise rock artist ExoGeo, this is all merely place setting, and their debut album The Nightmare Lottery takes a stab at reinventing the wheel, in a way, declaring Seattle’s new status as the experimental music mecca.
Even on a purely aesthetic level, The Nightmare Lottery has a very particular and well-directed vision; looking at the album cover, it’s a little gauzy and unnerving, but distinctly paints a picture of what lies inside. Opening with “Live Forever,” the aural plane shifts — dark, dismal notes enter the scene and paint a picture that will undoubtedly take up residence in listeners’ heads for some time. It’s eerie but extremely intriguing! “Breathe” picks up the tempo and shifts the sounds towards something a little more industrial, and “Annihilator” continues the same industrial sound pretty well. The echo-y vocals on the latter feel like a sacred chant, and the journey into the dark continues deeper.
“Unholy” explodes onto the scene with some harsh electric feedback before shifting into a more percussion-forward composition, and the aptly-titled “Beatist” continues the same trend. “Interlude” paints a picture using an absence of vocals as the central focus, and some blown-out percussion and sound design help bring this song to life. “Ghost” reignites the album to its earlier standards, but the added layer of what sounds like an explosive bass guitar at choice moments complements lead singer Rebecca Perez’s vocals well. “Mind’s Eye” and “100 Mph” function as two of the more sonically experimental tracks on the album, throwing in some interesting production choices as far as instrument levels go. “Explode” comes in at just over a minute as another sort of interlude, before the album closer “Missed Opportunity” comes in and outright puts all of ExoGeo’s chips on the table.
When all is said and done, The Nightmare Lottery wastes no time getting into the nitty-gritty of what it takes to be ExoGeo. According to the band’s bio, they make music “about things like the afterlife, summoning the Devil, and hearing voices, speaking for people unable to speak for themselves.” The eleven ambient, electro-experimental compositions that follow hold to such a bold descriptor, and the music contained within The Nightmare Lottery acts almost like that of the Necronomicon out of Sam Raimi’s film The Evil Dead — by playing this record, by reading from this “book,” you’re releasing some sort of ancient energy back upon the earth, or at least that’s what it feels like. This mindset gives the album’s title all the more credence, and going in with this sort of headspace will do wonders for what ExoGeo has planned not only with this album but with the future.