Monday, March 28, 2011

The Psychic Paramount - II

Their first studio record, Gamelan into the Mink Supernatural, was released when math rock and a psych revival were in full effect – how perfectly placed they could have been, if only they'd been given a bit more of the spotlight. Or any of it, really. That Brooklyn’s Psychic Paramount would require another six years to release a proper follow-up is somewhat of a mystery.

The Psychic Paramount could be lumped into so many bandwagons, yet they're not a pure imitation of anything. They are too organized to be Lightning Bolt. They lack the humor of Acid Mothers Temple. They are perhaps halfway between Oxes and Earthless, though they lack the machismo of one and stand too tightly at attention to bear the stoner rock aspirations of the other. But surely, what they have got is what the band Cream was once founded on, the concept that each musician is necessary and serves such a purpose that no member can be considered filler. Only, luckily, they’re not Cream.

II brings less of a fuzzy thrash than Gamelan, but is equally as indulgent while somehow being as pared down as it needs to be. The production somehow seems cleaner this time around, but in this case, the clarity of sound works to their advantage and makes every instrument all the more important (which couldn’t be said of a genre, for instance, like garage rock). “Intro/SP” sees Drew St. Ivany’s guitar driving forward like a ticking motor while Jeff Conaway’s drums hold it down with a steady weight. And as a piece of any perfectly good instrumental album should do, it bleeds seamlessly into its nearly-nine-minute follow-up, “DDB,” which is at once sludgy and barreling and changes its pacing no fewer than four times while maintaining its rhythm and leading into a conclusion that stretches out for over a minute.

From there, the record goes through phases, from almost beautiful, hypnotic, steady rhythm to jazz-style drum and bass, to that familiar ticking motor of a guitar that – god, forgive these fingers – once began with The Edge, though the Psychic Paramount should garner no other U2 reference in the slightest, as they’ve got so much more backbone and would deserve a far more interesting comparison point, if only there were one to give. II forced us to sit patiently for six years after the release of Gamelan, but god, it was worth the wait.

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