It’s an interesting time for the American underground, and the explosive talent coming out of the woodwork is only part of the reason why I would say as much this September. Rather than trying to court us with a lot of mainstream-ready looks, the top players making noise on the indie circuit at the moment are getting buzz for their willingness to color outside of the lines, and to me, Elektragaaz is one of the most notable acts doing so right now. Their new single, titled “Armads of the Milky Way,” is as elaborate as its name would suggest if not just a touch more, but not because of the frills that a lot of operatic rock groups and post-ambient electronic composers have been fascinated with for the last five years or so. From the moment we get into the guts of this track forward, Elektragaaz sounds committed to giving us something as rhythmic as it is mercilessly melodic in spots, and while a bit rough around the edges, there’s nothing present in “Armadas of the Milky Way” that would have us believe this wasn’t intended from the start of production.
One of the most annoying things I tend to encounter in pop music, specifically of the instrumental variety, is a scene-born identity that tethers the musicians to a concept they didn’t really come up with on their own, but that’s not a factor when breaking down the best parts of this single. On the contrary, there’s nothing here to pull the artists closer to anything but each other, as the music is the centerpiece of their chemistry more than anything else is.
You can tell from the beginning that they don’t want to replicate someone else’s narrative with this performance, and even with their Beatles-style experimentations on the arrangement front, there’s nothing about “Armadas of the Milky Way” that puts Elektragaaz on the retro side of the aisle with this material. They’ve got a commanding use of texture as well as brooding collage elements that translate a lot better than I would have initially thought they could, and if you like music that exists outside of its aesthetical parameters on purpose, this is just the kind of rebellious listen that you might have spent the whole summer looking for in 2022.
I don’t often endorse progressive projects as more often than not they tend to be riddled with indulgences that don’t look or sound good in any form of pop music, but this is an instance where the work speaks for itself and the musicians who are making it stand out in a crowded and skillful collection of players whether they’re trying to or not. I don’t hear nearly as many indie performers going out on a limb the way Elektragaaz is choosing to in “Armadas of the Milky Way,” and with any luck, this will not serve as the last time they push themselves and the audience they’re creating to the limits of what is currently considered as far as an electronic crossover act can go.