Throughout the 15 years of their existence, Chicago’s Pelican have crafted a distinction with their sound that goes well beyond the usual post-whatever genre purgatory. While “soundscapes” is the old standby non-word reserved for the glut of instrumental rock, Pelican have earned the descriptor not by playing to the instrumental gimmick formula but by creating a voice within the music itself. If it sounds too abstract then that’s precisely the point. Pelican’s music inhabits a place of sonic equity that invests itself as much in the deafening moments as it does in those of utter disquiet. At its most effective, the band’s music doesn’t telegraph emotionalism as much as it evokes a space in which a variance of emotions can inhabit in tandem. Even at their heaviest, Pelican’s dynamic power is derived from those contrasts that work to an end rather than as arbitrary compositional accents.
Streaming here is the Justin Broadrick remix of the title track to the band’s upcoming The Cliff EP (releasing on February 24 via Southern Lord). Pelican’s atmospheric craftwork paired along with the electronic syntax and pulse of Broadrick create an immediate call and response dialogue between what two contradictory sounds. What might otherwise provide a point of well-meaning but no less unsuccessful juxtaposition in many other songs is the most remarkable thing here. The success is due in large part to both artists’ familiarity with each other and an understanding of the raw power that comes with vulnerability in sound. Broadrick’s restrained but no less evocative interpretation of “The Cliff” is a testament to both to his creative respect for what’s given Pelican their characteristic sound as well as to the band’s easily adaptable framework here that works to form yet another brilliant dynamic to an already outstanding song.