Cognitive Enlightenment. Lower Dens, Nootropics.

To designate the debut Twin-Hand Movement and the follow-up Nootropics suggests, if nothing else, a confidence in full bloom. Named after smart drugs and nutraceuticals aimed at aiding in the enhancement of intelligence, if the title suggests Jana Hunter has furthered hers through forming Lower Dens, growing into its skin and whereby surrounding herself with merchants of harmonies to haunt even the most equilibrated of minds then its contents numbering ten intimate she's furthered functions sonic as well as academic.

We've already experienced so-called 'single' Brains and that sultry little number by the name of Propagation although plucking out odd instances seems a little superfluous within the context of appraising Nootropics. For it is the patent sound of progress; a seamless and utterly cogent piece of ultimate cohesion that is, quite unmistakably, a record. Seemingly intended to be consumed in one sitting; mulled over; dined out on for weeks and months and maybe years, Hunter has honed her craft and buckled it up alongside those immutably superb, vaguely androgynous vocal drones of hers as she guides us on a hazy trip through one of the finer, more refined and moreover complete recordings of recent times.

Indeed in the grand scheme of things neither Brains nor Propagation sticks out as the track to get you hooked on Hunter's take on Nootropics. No; although they dissolve well into the overall aesthetic of the album they're but gas to be guzzled in order that the thing stay on the road. For potent moments come thick, fast and fuzzy thus points at which Hunter may relieve foot from pedalled metal are essential to this aforesaid consistency. The insistent propulsion of Brains actually feels more like an overly exhaustive intro to the glorious instrumental into which it eventually accelerates – Stem – than a lead single aimed to jack the thing up and rev its inner wirings. At less than half the running time, its cirque stylings and wacky, racy guitars lend a sense of blithe leisure that the Baltimore outfit are oft lacking as it swiftly burns out in an ecstatic heap.

There's a similarly racy menace to Candy: like an under influence Fleetwood Mac sounding as dark as Rumours should have given the issues intrinsic to the excessive and uncontrollable gobbling of narcotics to have affronted its every contributor, it's one to cough and splutter to whilst caught up in the dust devil whipped up in its wake. The two-part Lion in Winter further evidences Hunter's exponentially increased ambition, initially evoking the abnormal ambiences of Demdike Stare and subsequently sounding like Victoria Legrand gliding down a certain Autobahn first mapped out in '74. The drum machines and instrumental minimalism of the segueing Nova Anthem again recall fellow townsmen Beach House, before Nootropics grinds to a mildly gruesome halt on 12-minute avant-garde epic In the End is the Beginning, an existential allegory perhaps as Hunter imitates ghoulish moans as if yodelling up from the singed surrounds of Hadean hellhole.

However shoddy your memory functions may be, the graciously audacious strains of Nootropics will be some forgotten none too soon.