Alias has traveled far and wide in the sonic realm since his childhood in Southern Maine, then known as Brendon Whitney. From the early roots of east coast hip-hop, he grew fast into his current moniker, breaking ground with his album, The Other Side of the Looking Glass, then continuing upwards, reaching the atmospheric heights of ambience by his next album, Muted. He then collaborated as producer with vocalist Tarsier, releasing Brookland/Oaklyn in early 2006. Since, he has remixed work and done edits, but no original work, which, when compared to his previously prolific output (an album a year 2001-2006) seemed like an abrupt drop off.
The new record, Resurgam, puts an end the two year silence, and as the Latin sound and sense of title connotes, this is something more than a new album, a simple reappearance; a resurrection, the revivified work of Brendon Whitney is this new Alias. Resurgam recombines the elements of the Alias oeuvre, recollaborating and reproducing his hip-hop and ambient tendencies to revolutionize Alias in anticon. As Whitney states almost prophetically in a single word, “I shall rise again.”
The music of Resurgam, however, really doesn’t rise. In many tracks on the album, the music doesn’t build, but erupts. In the song “I Heart Drum Machines” for instance, the different melodies develop in disparate times and place on the track, though just below the surface of the climax, they quickly churn, exploding into a catastrophic rise of chimes and rhythm, and the overwhelming mass of sound screams its way into visual existence, pluming above; a volcano. Other tracks, like “M.G. Jack” and “Death Watch,” seem to meditate on the aftermath, the hulking cloud of eruption. Violent bits of quick guitar and percussion shift and fold in the cloud, revealing a graceful sky-borne melody in the midst of a maelstrom. This erupting music is the product of Alias’ interest in both the dynamics of hip-hop and the statics of atmospheric music (and vice versa). This theme continues until the end of the album, where only then does it reach its apogee with “Oakland in the Rearview.” This track allows electronics to slowly strike the ionosphere, watching lightning pass like paper in the wind and slowing the speed of light hip-hop beats to travel at an ambient speed of sound.
This feature, despite its conquering sound, does not sway over the entire album. Many of the one-minute tracks are explorations of the calm before (or after) the electrical storm, a study of the gloaming. Other tracks hold more autonomy, however, and illustrate the cold force and climax of the mechanical in “Justamachine.” The two collaborations on the album deserve note for their integrity, allowing the music to meld and moprh and mutate into their own song sung by an artist that will never be heard from again.