A lot has happened since the release of Alias' last solo album, Muted, in 2003. Perhaps most notably, Oakland-dwelling Brendon Whitney-- who had left Portland, Maine, to hook up with the rest of anticon.'s preliminary influx of artists following 1998's Deep Puddle Dynamics collaboration (alongside Doseone, Sole, and Atmosphere's Slug)-- headed back home after almost a decade out West. Despite a break in recording solo, and moving away from the community that had supported him since the early days, Alias has had little down time musically. In 2005 he released the instrumental LP, Lillian, with his younger brother Ehren, and the subsequent year he teamed up with New York-based singer Tarsier for another full-length, Brookland/Oaklyn, which paid tribute to trip-hop while expanding their combined interest in contemporary electronica. Fittingly for Alias' first solo recording in five years, Resurgam takes its title from his hometown's Latin motto, translating to "I will rise again."
Although anticon. originally provided an alternative platform for geographically disparate but like-minded hip-hop artists when it started in the late 1990s, the label, continually flexible and innovative with its boundaries, has since grown to be equally associated with electronica and indie rock. This unification of genres has been a trademark of Alias since the beginning, and on Resurgam he successfully skips and fuses musical elements from across the board. The opening track, "New to a Few", has its bearings firmly in 80s-era hip-hop and flares with energy and hard-line beats before sliding into vast electronica with the aptly named "I Heart Drum Machines". Here, Boards of Canada-style soundscapes open up the space before collapsing into an upsurge of intricate rhythms and melodic samples that alternately break the flow then bring it back forward. These beats are often fairly stock in sound, but it's Alias' melodic additions that keep the steady pace of Resurgam engaging and refreshing, throwing some unexpected turns into the mix and proving that, stylistically, anything goes.
Fellow anticon. founder Yoni Wolf (aka Why?) joins Alias on the standout track "Well Water Black", where he ties together his distinctive, introspective monologues with a falsetto melody that wouldn't be out of place on a Flaming Lips record, pitching everything against a jolly background of virtual glockenspiel, happy-go-lucky handclaps, and what sounds like the album's only (thoroughly spectacular) live drum patch. And while tracks such as this conjure images of walking down a sunshiny Oakland avenue with jingling pockets and a spring in one's step, Alias' dice have many sides. Fast-forward six minutes and he's back to an airy instrumental that makes room for all the other ideas searching for space: sad-eyed acoustic indie with the One AM Radio on "Weathering"; propulsive urban electronica on "Autumnal Ego"; clear echoes of Four Tet on "Death Watch"; and the kind of euphoric jams one might expect to hear in a European disco club on "M.G. Jack".
While Resurgam is a record of many different moods, and unashamedly derivative of Alias' influences, it maintains a distinctive, concrete consistency. This is largely due to Alias' impressive talent for arrangements; the material is deftly woven with a great ear for detail, and there really is something to appeal to almost everyone. It is precisely this autonomous yet inclusive approach to creating music that Alias and his anticon. cohorts have always supported, and what makes Resurgam even larger than the sum of its parts.