Allegra Krieger - "Art of the Unseen Infinity Machine"
Allegra Krieger - "Art of the Unseen Infinity Machine"
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Allegra Krieger - "Art of the Unseen Infinity Machine"

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This is a pre-order. Items will ship on or before September 13, 2024.

On the ground level of an apartment building in Manhattan’s Chinatown, multiple lithium batteries combusted in an e-bike shop. It was just after midnight when songwriter Allegra Krieger awoke to a banging on her door. She made it out, fleeing down eight flights of stairs and a “wall of grey smoke,” which she recalls in her song, “One or the Other.” Throughout the song, Krieger cradles gratitude and conjures a universe in which she responded differently to the fire. Ultimately, she leaves us with two questions: “What do we know about living? What do we know about dying?”

It was in the months following the fire that Krieger wrote much of Art of the Unseen Infinity Machine, her second full-length album with Double Double Whammy, a collection of 12 songs that pick at the fragile membrane between life and death.

Krieger’s previous album, I Keep My Feet on the Fragile Plane, hewed more closely to the domestic spaces of city and mind. Rolling Stone regarded the album as “ten songs of heady philosophical meanderings packed with emotional dynamite,” and likened her “finely phrased lyrics” to those of “Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, [and] David Berman.” Krieger’s existential meditations remain on Art of the Unseen Infinity Machine, however her meandering melodies have taken on a stronger sense of direction. She narrates candidly and assertively; the full-band arrangements never overpower, only offer a robust platform on which Krieger’s voice reaches new heights.

The full band brings a heightened sense of drama to the album’s arrangements, which contrasts the quieter approach of Krieger’s previous LP. There are noisy interludes, jazz-inflected discursions, impactful stops and starts, and occasional spaces for Krieger to stretch out her impressive vocal range (most prominently at the dazzling climax of album stand out “Came”).

Lead single “Never Arriving,” from which the album’s title is derived, is thrilling in its compactness. Alluding to biology, sex and death in a series of sharp phrases, the song manages to address a whole worldview in a few short lines.

“Into Eternity” introduces a new stylistic wrinkle, taking on a sprechgesang narration over an uneasy guitar motif. In  a stream of consciousness delivery, Krieger presents a series of seemingly disparate vignettes - the chaos of a New York street, a memory of an interaction with a grieving ex-boyfriend, a homeless woman, a butterfly - and pulls at the common threads that connect them. Like much of the album, the song is invested in transfiguring the commonplace; examining events big and small and in doing so trying to take hold of their significance.

In Art of the Unseen Infinity Machine, Krieger invites us to a place where transfiguration is not only possible but actively happening. From this place, the beautiful and the banal and the terrible are all laid out before us. And Krieger asks us not to look away. Instead, she invites us to stare down the beautiful and terrible in the world, and to realize that sometimes the only way out is through.