You have to hand it to the guys from The Locust. They could have just stuck to their punk-rock guns and played their costumed spaz-core the rest of their lives. Whether it's Justin Pearson's brief foray into EDM with All Leather or Bobby Bray's abrasive brand of prog with Innerds, it says something about the members' character, as well as their musical abilities, that they're not afraid to experiment even if it means weirding people out.
Locust drummer Gabe Serbian has certainly weirded out audiences with bands like death-metalers Cattle Decaptation, but musically he's mostly stuck to hardcore or some kind of derivation thereof. Thatís why it's, well, weird to hear such a beautiful and orchestral sound coming out my speakers when I listen to Variations in the Key of the Afterlife, a new side project from Serbian and beatmaker Luke Henshaw. The two met while working with Pearson on some songs for a film score. The spacey instrumentals on Variations, which they've described as "post-prog," could have easily been the score for some kind of indie sci-fi thriller.
Comparatively, Variations reminds me a lot of The Chemical Brothers' score for the 2011 Joe Wright film, Hanna, but there are also elements of the Holy Trinity of cinematic composers here (Morricone, Mancini and Mayfield). Matt Resovich (Little White Teeth), Alia Jyawook (Hot Nerds) and a host of other local musicians stop by to land a hand with string and brass arrangements, but Serbian's live drumming anchors songs like "Sacred Mantras" and the paranoid "High Strangeness." His playing is slow and deliberate, precise and exacting. Anyone familiar with Serbian's catalogue knows he's arguably the best drummer in town, but who knew he was capable of something like this? Variations isn't going to satisfy Locust or Cattle Decapitation fans, but it is a unique statement from a guy who's unafraid to follow his instincts.