GLS First Listen: The Figurant Gets (Meta)physical With the Exclusive Premiere of New Single "Transmigration"
I seek the sacred fire
That hides behind the night,
The darkness desecrated
By these thousand points of light.
The outer mystery
Calling me to leave
In a world that is, perhaps, more fair, The Figurant would already be somewhat of a household name. They would be headlining European festivals, sharing their powerful, dramatic, dizzyingly complex and richly conceptual songs with tens of thousands of adoring fans. They would be offered gear sponsorships left and right from cutting edge makers of the finest instruments and amplifiers. Their image would grace the cover of innumerable publications devoted to heavy music. They would be touring with Opeth, visiting ancient shrines in India and Japan (from which I imagine his bandmates might have to physically drag frontman Preston Cobb), and discovering video after video on Youtube of aspiring guitarists trying to unravel guitarist Greg Hendler’s blistering, angular solos.
Unfortunately, we do not live in such a world quite yet (though I’m optimistic that we will), but in a way that makes this band - and their status as one of the Atlanta prog/experimental scene’s best kept secrets - all the more special. So when I received a message from The Figurant asking if Georgia Local Spotlight would host an exclusive first listen for their new single, “Transmigration” - the opening track from their forthcoming third EP, Perfection/Corruption - could I have even remotely considered saying “no”?
Like all of the songs in The Figurant’s discography, “Transmigration” features a stunning display of technical prowess on the part of every member of the band. Greg Hendler’s guitar work is dazzling and inhumanly precise. Archie O’Neal’s bass playing is every bit as remarkable, marked by intense, rapid melodic bursts. Chris Deese navigates jagged changes of time signature with the utmost smoothness, serving as the irreplaceable rhythmic nexus holding the whole thing together and driving it forward. And then there’s frontman Preston Cobb, whose distinctive, soulful clean vocals, piercing high shrieks, and rumbling low growls come together to vividly convey the abject agony experienced by the song’s protagonist as he traverses an incalculable multitude of realities in search of the path to ultimate liberation and escape into the Absolute.
Elaborating further on the track’s lyrical concept - which is intimately tied to that of the entire EP, Cobb had this to say:
“In the song itself, I take the literal meaning of the word - “a movement across” - as the character in the song is travelling through space and time, and embarking on an inner journey to achieve something like nirvana/salvation. However, the meta-character in the album as a whole is achieving transmigration in its more well known euphemistic sense of reincarnation. And the thought I follow is...what if your reincarnations just keep getting worse? What if every life, you make the best choices you can, but by some ignorance or mistake of fate, rather than getting closer to escape from the karmic cycle, you get further embedded into it?”
A thrilling first entry in an enthralling anthology-style song cycle dealing with profound, fantastic themes, “Transmigration” is a quintessential Figurant song. And given that I may have potentially already heard the entire EP well in advance...I can safely say that it heralds the arrival of what is perhaps the band’s most daring and cohesive release to date.
You can stream “Transmigration” below. Make sure you also check out the rest of The Figurant's discography, and follow the band on social media to keep up to date with all they have going on, including the imminent release of Perfection/Corruption.
Photo credit: Em Pearson Photos