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The Psychic Paramount - II

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Artist: The Psychic Paramount

Album: II

Label: No Quarter

Review date: Feb. 21, 2011

Way back in 1994, author Simon Reynolds coined the term "post-rock” when writing for The Wire. The spreading of that coinage proceeded to drive countless enervated trios and quartets to substitute pretention for fire, which resulted in college dorm rooms stacked with CDs bearing testimony to an utter inability to rock. The unfortunate side effect (or should I say, one of the unfortunate side effects) was the clutter that accumulated around, and obscured, the bands that were in fact taking rock to new places.

It’s been five years since the trio called The Psychic Paramount made our year with Gamelan into the Mink Supernatural, one of the finest sets of brain-cleansing, high-intensity power rock in the last decade. After we began to think that we wouldn’t hear from them again, the band finally saw fit to release its much-anticipated second album (not counting the more abstract Origins & Primitives release), II. Once again, Ben Armstrong (bass), Jeff Conaway (drums) and Drew St. Ivany (guitar) remind us what it’s like when a band that truly does rock also grasps texture and atmosphere, and doesn’t let go.

From the outset, the sudden blast of frenetic drumming, dense bass and flurries of guitar notes is like waking up in the middle of a cyclone. The rhythmic interplay between the three instruments is the key to this band’s magic; as the beat twists and turns, everyone finds the right place to veer then return, maintaining momentum and building up energy, of which they have plenty to burn. Conaway and Armstrong are essential as the gears on which everything turns, as St. Ivany’s guitar flows around them, here cascading like a tidal wave, there floating in mimicry of a keyboard.

The single song "DDB" sums up the group’s capabilities. It moves from beautifully hovering guitar notes into a sudden rhythmic shift from which it accelerates steadily and unstoppably upward into varied fits of momentary chaos. If the song were a book, it would have a plot you’d have to re-read to follow fully, and in the same way, repeated listening at high volume is almost a must.

The Psychic Paramount’s music lacks words, but not a voice. These songs have a lot to say, and I’ll be surprised if I hear a rock album this year that packs as strong a punch as II. Now I just hope that more people hear it and realize that they can get atmosphere, psychedelia and experimentation without sacrificing energy.

By Mason Jones

Other Reviews of The Psychic Paramount

Gamelan Into the Mink Supernatural

Origins and Primitives

Read More

View all articles by Mason Jones

Find out more about No Quarter

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