There are a few bands I’ve found in my life that I feel like I can’t classify, and when they come my way, they become immediate favorites. My brain has always worked in genre specifics, so when something eludes the structure it becomes a fascination. For ExoGeo, a one-woman band based out of Seattle, the music doesn’t just elude the structure, it makes a mockery of the very concept of genres and gives listeners an entirely new frame of mind to listen to music in.
There’s the instrumental focus, the deeply poetic lyrics and prose, and the haunting vocals, when taken separately, but together, there’s something wholly unstuck in time about the entire idea around ExoGeo. The music ends up feeling like something not of this world, which surely ties into the etymology behind the band’s name (“exogeography” being the study of the physical structure and inhabitants outside the Earth), and The Nightmare Lottery functions as an album from another time and space altogether by the time it has finished.
The Nightmare Lottery opens with the words “I don’t really know what happens after people die. Do we go somewhere or do we not? I don’t really know where I am gonna end up, will I ever come back to be reborn?” Talk about a statement of intent, “Live Forever” immediately brings listeners into the deep end. The album’s lyrics follow suit and maintain a sense of cold, indifference, and eternal wonder at the same time — there’s never any time for dread, just observations that often feel as human as they do alien. The prose is deeply poetic and maybe the standout from the album for me, but that’s because it might be the most traditional angle the album has going for it. The lyrics are hard to make out at times, if not most of the time, as ExoGeo chooses to use vocals as a mere addition to the audio layering than as a front and center focal point.
Sonically, songs like “Annihilator” and “Ghost” work fairly traditionally, or as traditional as an album like The Nightmare Lottery can get, and higher energy tracks like “100 Mph” and “Mind’s Eye” try to get a little bit more progressive with their limits. The instrumentals on every track often feel distinctly unpredictable, with volume levels spiking and dipping at a whim, and drums or chords coming in without any anticipation or heads up.
The genres explored feel impossible to pin down, and the direction each song is headed feels as comfortable in its skin as anything you’ll hear on the Top 40. Crunchy percussion and dingy, dismal guitar chords against space-age electronic ambient noise feel about as varied as you can get, and there’s just about not a single genre I can configure into this sound, but it works — and with that, I’ve decided on a genre: the extraterrestrial doom ambient noise-rock genre, freshly minted by ExoGeo, will never be the same after The Nightmare Lottery, but it never was before so who’s to say what’s to come.