by Raul Antony
What if Marshall Applewhite was right? What if a Hale–Bopp-trailing spacecraft did pick up those 39 souls out of their vehicles? It doesn’t take much to observe current events around the world to believe that we truly are going through an apocalyptic recycling. Composer Maximillian Olivier takes the listener through a journey into the Next Level on Exit Earth, the fourth full length album from Council of Nine.
After two deeply inward albums dealing with personal loss, Council of Nine has shifted its focus upwards and outwards exploring the Heaven’s Gate phenomenon. Exit Earth‘s arrangement of sweeping ambient synth pads and panning effects manifest a cosmic voyage into dimensions only hinted at in Applewhite’s captivating gaze. While less prevalent and lower in the mix than previous releases, brief hidden melodies flow back and forth under the thundering bass of propulsion thrusters. Bells ring in extended delays, while vocal samples are pitch shifted higher as if faded memories are going through various stages of time dilation. Rippling and bleeping electronics flicker on the chassis of “Above Human”, held steady by the rumbling of a massive engine.
Exit Earth has less of a feeling of passive melancholy than a yearning to explore. Or maybe escape is a better term, as “This World Has Not Been Kind” suggests. On that track in particular, you hear one of the few organic field recordings of water splashing on a shore and drowned out spoken words. Both these memories are eventually cut away, literally by an audible sawing and scraping from the scythe of time.
Considering the last two Council of Nine albums were centered on the illness and then passing of Olivier’s beloved mother, I can’t help but wonder if Exit Earth is an expression of that desire to detach, to evacuate from the tragedies and turmoils of this world. Yes, there is sadness, but it’s answered with brave affirmation into the unknown. This was often (but not always) the case with members of cults like Heaven’s Gate, who arrive with broken relationships, depression, lost loved ones. These emotional catalysts create voids that yearn to be filled. I hope this album has satisfied that need for Olivier, and provides that needed cathartic release for other listeners seeking the same sense of deliverance. I’ll be sure to play this during my next camping trip, and I’ll look up and acknowledge 39 stars.