Many albums have drawn inspiration from the cooped-up conditions of the past year, but few are shaping up to be as ambitiously stir-crazy as Prolaps’ Ultra Cycle saga. Described in an interview as “a punishment for humanities’ crimes against the earth” by vocalist and Kill Alters mastermind Bonnie Baxter, her second collaboration with Machine Girl’s Matt Stephenson amounts to eight hours of debilitatingly psychedelic club music, spread over four separate albums released on each solstice and equinox of this year. The message is equal parts “nature is healing” and “humanity is dying,” but Prolaps deliver it all with the same gleeful fervor.
While Ultra Cycle kicked off in spring with Vernal Birth, Prolaps find a groove with Estival Growth, the summer-themed release marking Ultra Cycle’s second volume. They still crash your brain with DMT-dipped mutations of drum & bass, hardcore, and gabber, but the sense of chaos is always balanced by an excess of sonic pleasures. “Moss Hall” loops hammering breakcore and distorted shouts before dropping into a half-time beat with ear-tickling vocal loops, itself acting as a breather before the 12-minute breakbeat epic “The Magic Lizards” follows. These are hyper-aggressive tracks, but the duo always knows the right moment to downshift and keep you hooked.
Prolaps expertly juggle listeners from track to track even when working in such extremes. The bassy “Energy Pattern” leads into the spaced-out grooves of “Overlapping Systems” and the playfully loopy “New To This Place” acts as a breather after making it through the claustrophobic “Club Meat.” It all makes Estival Growth the most satisfying and inviting of Prolaps’ euphorically confrontational catalog and, now at the halfway point of this admirably unhinged project, the best argument to follow Ultra Cycle to its end.