About Slack Armada

For 15 years sonic adventurer James Hrabak of Slack Armada didn’t play a note of music. Immersed in the joys and challenges of a fulfilling career and domestic bliss, he stepped away from his days as an intrepid musician, pushing the outer realms of indie rock via shoegaze, noise, and dark wave. Six months ago, however, a confluence of events preceded by the random arrival of a musical instrument catalog led to a reawakening of his dormant creativity.

“There was an aligning of the planets,” the Chicago-based composer, producer, multi-instrumentalist says with a chuckle. “My personal life was becoming less hectic and I had time to dedicate to music, so I looked into recording software and pulled the guitar out of the closet to see what I could do.”

Musically recharged, and emboldened by the creative communities popping up due to the advent of social media, Hrabak returns to his artistic continuum with the self-titled debut from Slack Armada. The EP is an epic all-instrumental offering that recalls the transcendent textures and breathtaking dynamics of artists such as My Bloody Valentine, Boards of Canada, and Mogwai. One instantly recognizable distinction from these aforementioned more ambient tinged artists is Hrabak’s innovative use of beats as a primary compositional tool, building breathtaking soundscapes with sprawling dynamics around glitchy grooves.

The four-track Slack Armada EP is evocative and emotional, using captivating melodies and dramatic textures to convey an expressive narrative in lieu of singing. “Not using vocals wasn’t a conscious decision at the beginning,” Hrabak explains. “As I was building up the tracks, I thought ‘Maybe I can make the music speak to somebody without that additional guide of a human voice.’ I wanted to let the listener be transported with fewer guideposts.”

Slack Armada is rife with image-oriented titles such as “Rebirth,” “Your Majesty,” “Looper,” and “Escape Velocity” that perfectly compliment the aesthetic quality of each song. The track “Rebirth” begins with airy notes hanging in the stratosphere like clouds that are soon shone through with sunray, sparkly guitars. “For me, that musical idea felt a lot like waking up, like a rebirth,” reveals Hrabak. The ominous and driving synth bass on “Escape Velocity” conjures the celestial imagery invoked by its title. As interesting side note, the track’s dense and haunting wall of guitars are actually layers of synths.

Slack Armada will progress as an EP-only artistic dialogue releasing diverse but conceptually focused experimental music. Upcoming, Hrabak will be issuing an EP of Slack Armada vocal music. “It’s an exciting time, especially when I think that six months ago I didn’t have any music at all,” Hrabak says, reflecting back. “I have so much music cooking now - not a moment goes by where I’m not thinking about music.”


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