Since their inception, Tesseract haven’t been averse to revisiting older works and manipulating them into a more contemporary framework. They’ve been redoing grooves, experimenting with acoustic versions of old songs, and always trying to further distance themselves from the djent scene that they helped propel five years ago. With their most recent full-length, 2015’s Polaris, the band showed that they were straying even further from their metal roots. There were still plenty of moments that’ll open up pits the world over, but Tesseract could almost be argued as a progressive/alternative rock band at this point. Now looking at Errai, an EP with four reworked Polaris tracks, it’s evident that Tesseract are arguably at their best when they’re at their most distant.
Errai, at the end of the day, is essentially an incredible platform for vocalist Dan Tompkins to unload some of the most beautiful, sensitive, and dynamic performances of his entire career. Let’s be real here: Tesseract are practically peerless when it comes to vocal talent. Most of the melodic ideas in tracks like “Survival” and “Torniquet” remain true to the original, but they’re delivered with an even greater attention to detail than before. “Torniquet” steals the show, easily surpassing the original recording due to its grander and cinematic approach. The climax feels far more dramatic than before, the sparse electronic instrumentation feels much more fitting for the vocals, and the piano outro is simply haunting. There’s still at least a semblance of guitar riffing to be had here too, so if this is the direction that Tesseract ends up going for, then we have nothing to worry about.
“Seven Names” is perhaps the most dissimilar remake of the bunch. It’s the only track of the four here in a different key than its original and the overall pacing of the first few minutes takes the listener on some rather unexpected twists before unloading some amazing, delay-drenched leads that’d make fans of Pink Floyd and Anathema weep. Unfortunately, the ending of the new version doesn’t really match the album-closing intensity of the former, but it’s still a fairly interesting and well-executed performance. Tompkins’ vocals don’t feel quite as intense on the new cut, but much more controlled and nuanced. “Cages,” while certainly a decent remake, is unfortunately sandwiched between the EP’s two best tracks and may get lost in the shuffle as the years go by.
Some fans of the band’s heavy, rhythmic approach may want to sit this one out for now, but Errai is an impressive little batch of remixes that could very well be an indicator of what’s to come. The Radiohead, Dredg, and Karnivool influences are more apparent than ever, but the band hasn’t sounded this comfortable and confident in quite some time. None of Errai’s new sonic explorations feel forced or tacky, but actually sound like a seasoned group of veteran musicians ready and willing to accept change. This EP is a must-have for fans of all things vocal-driven, spacey, ambient, and lush.