UK-based band Stratus marches onto my speakers with their third EP “Mirrors” and their five tracks showcase a different range of abilities and genres.
Kicking off with the post-synth-rock hybrid of “Mirrors”, the title track has electric drums and shaky percussion battle with a low-key dance bass melody. Drenching itself over the top is a variety of synths and electric guitar mumbles. It’s a bit celestial, it’s a bit 80’s Soft Cell, it’s also a bit Royksopp too. It’s quite a unique merger of genres and it’s what originally pulled me into Stratus to start with. “Automaton” continues with the post-synth style of music but slowly veers itself down a more psychedelic route. The synths become more 70’s inspired and trippy – almost like a b-movie alien landing in places. The bass has a constant onward march that gives a slight impending doom as the track evolves and enrichens over its seven minutes, with the final two minutes really being where it all comes together. “Isle of Dogs” is more abstract than before with its off kilter keyboards and slow low fi drums and bass. It’s a really slow burning track that’s perfect for the late evening electronic chill out sessions. “We Walked The Shores” is an epic eight minutes long and is my favourite from the EP. It’s the most post rock the band get to on the release. The guitar loops are lush and the way the other instruments are structured around them is well done. The otherworldly atmosphere that’s built into the latter half of the track is sublime and this track is a cut above the rest on the EP for me. The closing track “Lost Library” veers back to weird electronica pitch bending and eerie chord structures to create something Philip Glass would have made in the early 80’s. I really enjoyed the mood this track creates because it personifies being lost very well musically – and that’s a hard thing to do! It’s pure synth as well, there’s barely any percussion in it at all as the bass becomes a ticking time bomb in a way.
Stratus are an unusual band doing unusual things with the post genre. With all the post rock love going on, Status are going down a synth heavy style. It takes some getting used to but they create a great mood with some excellent loops. A bit more refining and stronger transitions could see them fly.