I’ve been absorbing the new album from Aphexia for a month now, and I have to say that it is a complex beast. I had other albums in line to review, but something about this album forced my hand today. The new album is called Interdependence, and it released on April 18th.
Aphexia is a solo project from Ophelia Sullivan of Germany. She composes, performs, and produces her own music, and also provides vocals. This album is completely—her.
The music here is something multi-faceted, for sure. On the surface, it is post-progressive electronic music, leaning heavily on synth melodies, angular dubstep, and trip hop beats, but also featuring bass highlights and even electric guitar. There is definitely influence from alternative and pop music, too, mainly found in Ophelia’s dark yet catchy vocal melodies. This is a very “metal” style of electronica, even if there isn’t really much metal in the sound, though there is a bit of retro progressive rock in the sound with the Mellotron.
One thing that has caught my ear here is how intelligent the lyrics and concepts are, and how it connects with the music. Everything feels purposeful and carefully crafted; nothing feels like filler. The concept of the album revolves around the interdependence of how we’ve been programmed with the change we may desire, and the will it takes to achieve those goals. Ophelia can see, for instance, how capitalist ideals infiltrate an anti-capitalist belief system rather easily. The album addresses the repressive and oppressive systems that live within all of us, and how incredibly difficult it is for us to become aware of them. She relates this to gender, sexuality, artistry, and self-identity. Long story short, I’m very impressed and interested in these ideas.
The music presents these ideas, sometimes being downbeat, pensive, and melancholy, while other times being energetic, geometrical, and complicated. There are moments of pure ambience directly adjacent to powerful, stuttering beats. And the whole concept is gushing with fog and haze, bordering on psychedelia.
Interdependence is about 45 minutes long with 13 tracks. I really like several songs. “Dialectic of Vulnerability” is the first major track, and it is a melodic dubstep experience. The chorus is subtle and riveting, and I love the keyboard atmosphere that filters in near the end. “Two Blind Eyes Shopping for Souls” is another great song, this one having a bit slower pace, but almost a bit of jazz in its DNA. Rounding out the first half is “Subversion of Identity”, and this might be one of my favorite songs overall. I love its subtle keyboard melody, feeling quite “proggy” in all honesty, but the climax near the end really takes that melody to new places.
The second half of the album doesn’t have as many crazy beats, and so it flows like butter. Songs like “Subordination” and “Reference Two” will make progressive fans feel right at home, the latter even having some guitar. “False Dichotomy” is probably the centerpiece of this part of the album, being full of addictive electronic loops, dark ambient tones, and a great chorus. I think it might be my favorite on the album. The album ends rather quietly on the last few tracks, feeling thoughtful and haunted with moments of energy punctuating that overall mood.
Aphexia is a really interesting project, one that develops all sorts of moods and deep thoughts. Compared to other electronic albums this year, Interdependence is by far the weightiest, most intelligent, and most complex. And while other such projects have been focusing on the pandemic or even just on the music itself, Ophelia has shown here that she can focus on profoundly human topics right alongside jaw-dropping music. This album will only continue to grow on me.