Sometimes you come upon music at precisely the right time. That’s what happened to me five years ago when I got the album Immersion by Australian-British drum-and-bass band Pendulum, and came upon the last song on the album, “Encoder.” At this point, I was very near a significant change in location and companions in my life; the omnipresent ideas of closure and moving forward within “Encoder” immediately clicked with me, and I fell in love.
As a whole, while Immersion retains elements of traditional drum and bass music, it blends that with elements of industrial rock, and this is particularly true for “Encoder.” Building with an electronic riff in the intro, booming bass joins it as the song gains energy. Where it really shines, however, is at about 3 minutes in; after the song fades out into a false end, the instrumentals build into an energetic climax as vocalist Rob Swire delivers one last stanza of lyrics, closing off with the impactful lines, “There’s no relief in bitterness / might as well let it die.” As Swire has tweeted, the song is about leaving friends behind, but certainly it lends itself powerfully to an ending of any kind in which, for better or for worse, you have to part ways with one or more people.
“Encoder” also functions well in its role as the final track of Immersion, not only due to its themes of finality and closure, but also in its instrumental outro, transitioning from the dynamic electronics into acoustic guitar and a light electronic riff that eventually fades into the sounds of splashing water and gasps for air. Essentially, with the album being an immersion in water (as depicted by the album artwork), at the close of it all it seems there is a resurfacing. While a small detail in the big scheme of things, it’s a nice touch that I particularly appreciate due to my love for grand, thematic ideas being utilized on an album level.
It certainly has a lot more power if you listen to it within its place in the whole album, but regardless of that, it’s a song with a lot of passion and emotion that merits a listen.