When Elder emerged in Massachusetts in the mid-2000s, they worshiped at the altar of stoner-doom heavyweights such as Sleep and Eyehategod. But in the years since, they’ve emerged from behind the weed to establish a voice of their own. By their fifth LP, 2020’s Omens, most of the band had relocated to Berlin, and as a group they’d shed much of their early sludge and grime in favor of heady strains of prog, psych, postrock, and more. Unfortunately, it came out just as the music industry shut down. Elder’s new album, Innate Passage, arose from that period when the very definition of time felt like it’d come unmoored—days and weeks blurred together, and it became a morbid half-joke to wonder how many months long March 2020 could possibly be. Though a global pandemic is by definition a collective experience, prolonged isolation rendered each person’s experience of it intensely personal. Innate Passage loosely explores the notion of life and time as an individual journey—not just the paths we take, but the lenses we use to filter reality. Heard in that light, it feels appropriate that the record’s five long-form tracks sometimes feel simultaneously kaleidoscopic, fantastical, and yearning; “Coalescence” pairs motorik chug with celestial melody and delves into forlorn atmospheres, then jets off to space with intergalactic synths. Innate Passage is a milestone from musicians who’ve proved themselves unafraid of reinvention. There may be more rocky waters ahead, but Elder’s silky, exploratory rock doesn’t get mired in turbulence—and it’s inspiring to hear them sail on through it.
Elder’s Innate Passage is available through Bandcamp.