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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Psychic Paramount - II: A-

Restraint: Know it, understand it, love it, because restraint is the most important aspect to enjoying The Psychic Parliament’s first album in six years, II. Where other groups that deal in instrumental noise rock have a tendency to take advantage of the amorphous nature of their genre and flail their instruments tunelessly into expectedly bat-shit directions, The Psychic Parliament maintain a taut push-pull relationship between each of its three members that allows for countless melodies to ebb and flow through each of their tracks that often exceed the five-minute mark.

What will often happen on II is guitarist Drew St. Ivany and bassist Ben Armstrong will set the parameters of a song in terms of tone, tempo and tune, and then allow for drummer Tatsuya Nakatani to dictate the direction of the movements from there. The restraint in St. Ivany and Armstrong is obvious in the many times they resort to ambient distortion in order to accommodate the psychedelic nature of many of II’s songs, but Nakatani is equally disciplined. When he’s given the floor, he does not simply freak out and turn the proceedings into a boring “Let’s-count-the-cymbal-crashes” ordeal. Instead, he finesses his way through St. Ivany and Armstrong’s arrangements. On “N6,” he matches St. Ivany’s anxious strums with equally restless high-hat paradiddles that devolve into the hauntingly distant foundation to the following track, “Isolated.” Nakatani demonstrates his influence best when he rears “Intro / Sp” from chaos to sly propulsion by simply switching from cymbals to high hat.

II relies significantly on repetition, most notably in the two bass (?) notes played continuously on “DDB,” so The Psychic Parliament’s performance can often sound like improvisation. However, the poise the band observes on the album through these bouts of repetition turns them into the potential backbeats for songs with vocals, but ones that could never be constrained to any verse-chorus-verse structure. The overall effect of these songs is controlled chaos; lightning in a bottle. II soundtracks the most uproarious rager that ever took place so dangerously close to the edge of a cliff.


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