Pelican’s 2009 full-length What We All Come to Need showed the Chicago band fully embracing their sonic past, combining elements of all of their previous work into one smooth sound. Guitarist Laurent Schroeder-Lebec explained that Come to Need “speaks to a rapidly decaying world, the fulfillment we find in each other, as well as the resolve to move beyond disillusionment.” The album ends with “Final Breath,” which shook up Pelican's reputation as an instrumental band thanks to Allen Epley's (Shiner and The Life and Times) ambient vocals. Whether or not it was intentional, his opening line “my love is like a red, red rose that’s newly sprung in June" appropriately foreshadows Pelican’s creative future.

If Come to Need was a point of convergence in Pelican's career, the Ataraxia/Taraxis EP might represent a new era in the band’s sound. The concepts of this EP also seem to be a response to Come to Need's themes. The word “ataraxia” was used by Greek philosophers in reference to a disconnection from unhealthy feelings and thoughts relating to the outside world, aiming to attain a sort of enlightenment where you have deep personal relationships and are not emotionally affected by negative chaos.

The opening track “Ataraxia” primes the listener for enlightenment with a lightly swelling distorted guitar, which bends downward in pitch like an airplane diving in the distance. Ominous bass echoes between the left and right channel before acoustic guitar and electric piano intertwine on top the previous layers. A soft, percussive static enters, intertwining with the bass. The bass and piano drop out shortly before the acoustic guitar does, leaving the distorted guitars to drone and taper off to give way to the heavy rock riff of the second track, "Lathe Biosas." Shifting between stuttering and straight rhythms, this riff serves as the song's main theme, undergoing variations over time. The winding bass line that briefly jumps in a handful of times is one of the coolest in Pelican’s entire catalog. The piece opens up around the two-minute mark, leaving guitars to trade arpeggios between the left and right of the mix. After returning to the main theme, “Lathe Biosas” ends in a similarly rhythmic -- though more concise -- manner as Pelican's heavy Chicago brethren Russian Circles' “309."

“Parasite Colony” is a bit of a throwback to the heaviest moments from Pelican's debut album Australasia -- namely the slow pace and dirty, discordant guitars. "Taraxis” closes out the album with a progressive feel, beginning with acoustic guitar and light percussion that adheres to an odd meter. It switches to a “normal” four beats per measure in order for a high, crackling distorted guitar to fall into place, which twists in about as funky of a manner as Pelican can muster. Another brief pause gives way to low, crackling distorted guitar and feedback noises. More guitars come in, adding to the chaos and aggression, but the drums keep everything under control, preventing the song from journeying deep into metal territory. “Taraxis” ends right at its peak, leaving anticipation for what Pelican has in store.