Progressive music doesn’t always have to contain a lot of campiness and indulgence that only serves to please those who love the genre the most; in fact, sometimes it can center on a concept of efficiency, expressiveness, and the absence of linguistics altogether. The latter is true of the debut album Red Air Don’t Care from Murder by Death drummer Dagan Thogerson’s new solo project Go to Space Die, and in all eight of the record’s songs, I think some level of cut and dry meticulousness creates the framework for the music.
Thogerson doesn’t hide his enthusiasm for excess where it counts – the guitars, drums, even the rhythm of the music – but from a production standpoint, this is really as black and white as you can get in a progressive outing without losing the cohesiveness of the tracklist. There’s no detail spared from audibility; whether it’s the clicking of the bass as it conjoins with the guitar’s razor-sharp melodies in “Rollaway,” the thrust of the percussion coming into the riff with “Sheets,” or the melding of textures that comprises each act in the multilayered “Threes Away,” we’re getting as vivid a listen as we could ask for without seeing a live concert.
There’s a lot more to Red Air Don’t Care than big riffs and crashing drums alone, and I would point listeners to “Queen D” and “Way Up” as a good example of what I’m talking about. While I think you could probably break up this tracklist and listen to the different songs on their own, there’s a deeper meaning to a one-two punch that this pair of compositions present when they’re played together, and although there’s no singer in the booth, the instruments correspond with each other between beats all too brilliantly.
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The tonality of the melodic instrumentation is always supremely bold, but nothing winds up sounding overstated because, while there’s invasiveness to the push of the guitar parts, it isn’t strong enough (nor left unmanaged by the bassline) to bleed into the other elements in the music. The arranging is top-notch, but even if Thogerson had decided to play songs like “Spring Ahead” and “Jumpinthelake” a little sloppier, his intricately produced LP would still allow for his performance to sound pretty great.
I wasn’t expecting to be as taken aback by the quality of the music in Red Air Don’t Care as I was this January, but I can officially say that the buzz Thogerson’s Go to Space Die has been getting is legitimate and well-warranted, all things considered. There’s a lot of potential for this to become more than just a side project if it’s marketed more directly to the ailing post-rock community than the progressive rock underground, but no matter what kind of direction it winds up taking, there’s enough here to verify how talented the player behind the noise truly is. He’s crushing it here, and I don’t imagine a lot of critics – nor listeners – disagreeing with me on that.