Alias: Resurgam

On his first solo instrumental album in five years, Alias takes Boards Of Canada's gorgeous forays into the ambient unknown and splits them across his drum kit. The comparison to the electro-gaze godfathers is inevitable—Resurgam is brimming with glacial, lucent, keys-driven beauty—but the Anticon soundscape designer holds his own among such strong company. Perhaps owing to his days as an MC (alone and as part of seminal art-rap crew Deep Puddle Dynamics), Alias has an impeccable ear for rhythm, and he complements all that pretty, crystalline sprawl with a whole lot of surging, sharp angles via his own chopped-up live drumming. "Death Watch" alternately soothes and swells like The Books gone dubstep, "Justamachine" is a dark epic defined by its percussive punches, and when Why? songbird Yoni Wolf stops by to lend falsettos, Rhodes, and raps to "Well Water Black," he appears as another instrument in the mix, alongside Alias' own guitar, melodica, voice (always without words), and 10 types of keyboards. It makes sense that this is the album that follows the artist's exodus from Oakland back to his quiet hometown in southern Maine—for all of its beat-fueled bluster, Resurgam is best played on a slow snow day right after the storm lets up and the sun begins to pierce the clouds.

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