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THE PSYCHIC PARAMOUNT

 
 
 

The Psychic Paramount

 

From New York. Super8 and 16mm films by Aran Tharp. Index image by Ebru Yildiz. Site powered by Squarespace. Content for demo use only.

 

Guitar / Drew St. Ivany
Bass / Ben Armstrong
Drums / Jeff Conaway

 

 
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II

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The Psychic Paramount
 

 


Formed just five days before a scheduled tour of France and Italy in 2002, the original line-up of The Psychic Paramount featured Drew St. Ivany on guitar, Ben Armstrong on bass, and Tatsuya Nakatani on drums. The tour was booked on solo recordings by St. Ivany - later released as Origins & Primitives Volume 1. Some of these performances were recorded on a Sony DA-5 portable cassette deck and edited down for Live 2002: The Franco-Italian Tour CD released by the band in 2003.
After re-locating back to the U.S. in 2004, Armstrong and St. Ivany joined up with drummer Jeff Conaway to record Gamelan Into the Mink Supernatural. This was to be the first studio LP by the band, appearing on No Quarter records in 2005. The line-up has remained unchanged ever since.
In 2011, the band issued it's second studio album entitled II to critical acclaim on No Quarter records. The band has been on public hiatus since 2013. However, over the span it's existence the group has been relatively active on the live circuit, playing concerts in over 12 countries. Further studio sessions were recorded in 2012-2013 but have yet to be released. 

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Live dates

 

For a comprehensive list of past live dates click here.

 

VILLAGE VOICE Q&A: THE PSYCHIC PARAMOUNT’S JEFF CONAWAY ON SMOKE MACHINES AND BRIGHT LIGHTS, NOT DIGGING DAYTIME GIGS AND BEING REALLY LOUD

By Brad Cohan Fri., May 18 2012

"It's kind of a blast that comes out of nowhere," is how Jeff Conaway, drums- pulverizing overlord for New York City's brutally loud instro-mental skuzz beasts the Psychic Paramount describes the chaotic scene when the trio erupts into ear-bleeding crusher "Intro/Sp" live in concert. But being rip-face loud is only one piece of the PPs' M.O.

Guitarist Drew St. Ivany, bassist Ben Armstrong and Conaway converge to form a Branca-esque symphonic wall of cutthroat noise chime with a bludgeoning, coiled heaviosity of ear-bleeding magnitude as plumes of smoke billow from within and beaming lights pierce the eyeballs making it a hellish task to see the fuckin' hand in front of your face.

The threesome—who notoriously work at a snail's pace (these dudes managed not to release an album for six friggin' years)—is ready to inflict more damage to your eardrums, working on a follow-up to 2011's epic riff-fest II.

Sound of the City met with Conaway at his Astoria local to talk loudness, smoke machines and his love for The Dustdevils.

I saw you guys open for Trans Am. Was that the most recent show Psychic Paramount has played?
I think that was the last New York show.

Yeah, you don't play around that much.
Nah, no. [Laughing]

All three of you live here in New York, though, right?
We tend to go take breaks then we get active again and then we take more breaks. It always seems like we're busy doing something, though.

But you have a short tour coming up starting with the gig at (le) Poisson Rouge?
Yeah, a tiny, little U.S. tour—east coast tour—and then we're gonna go over to Paris to play Villette Sonique. We'll just go over there and come back. We got about five weeks here and then right now a U.S. tour is being set up. We should be making it out all the way to the west coast in July and August.

TPP at Basilica | photo: Samantha Marble

 

I saw you are playing the Pitchfork Music Festival also. How'd that come about?
I think they approached Mike Quinn, the guy who runs [label] No Quarter.

Playing that fest seems like a good publicity getter... 
Yeah... 

... I don't write for Pitchfork, but... 
Yeah [Laughing]. That'll be cool [to play]. That was kind of the reason we thought we could do this tour around that. So yeah, we got a lot of stuff going on. We got that coming up, and then some studio dates for new material... 

Are you doing this short tour to test out new tunes?
Yeeeeeah... we're gonna have some new stuff for the tour. I wouldn't say it's to totally to test it all out but with the Pitchfork thing it just seemed like going out to Chicago and keep going... 

... and base a bunch of gigs around that.
Yeah.

This is a lot of activity for the Psychic Paramount considering the span in between your 2011 record II and Gamelan Into The Mink Supernatural, which came out way back in 2006.
Yeah, like six years [Laughing].

Did you break up or were you an active band during those years?
Yeah, yeah. We were [active]. We did tours, we'd be going to Europe, we did several U.S. tours. We just didn't record. We had one rough tour in Europe and we kinda took a big break after that but never disbanded and that was back in 2005. Basically, the story with that was we recorded basic track for a full record and ended up scrapping all of it. For a while, we were working on the tracks ourselves, doing overdubs and mixing it ourselves and then we just ended up scrapping the while thing and going an re-recording at the studio called Machines with Magnets up in Providence and that's what turned into II.

What happened in Europe that you said was a rough period for the band?
[Laughing] It was just one of those tours where a lot of the shows didn't seem to make sense. Tours could go that way sometimes. The subsequent ones—we have a different booking agent over there now—have been much better.

Are you delegated the official spokesman for the band?
No, I wouldn't say so. We all do interviews. It just ended up being me this time.
 

TPP in New York | photo : Ebru Yildiz

 

Psychic Paramount has a rehearsal after our interview. Do those pracs stretch out since most of your songs are pretty long?
On the weekends, they're pretty epic. They can stretch out six, eight hours, something like that. It's not all playing. There's a lot of talking and hanging out. [Laughing].

Are PP songs born out of jamming?
Yeah, a lot of them are and especially now, all the stuff that we've been working on for this new... the new material is all out of improvs. Then we'll do this thing where we go back and find certain sections that really have something happening and kinda cobble together a few different ideas for different jams, maybe even (some) that are two months apart but somehow they're going to work together. We build songs that way.

Live in concert, you guys seem to stick to the recorded versions and don't extend into long jams.
It's all fairly composed. We will stretch it out on certain ideas: we're gonna start here and end here. A lot of the songs on II, we've been playing pretty much as they were recorded. It was a real interesting process with the songs because there was such a gap between the two records. Like I said, we recorded an initial version (of II) which was scrapped and then the songs just kept evolving through playing live. So by the time we got into the studio, they had been just honed from literally like years of playing the stuff live. This time, the emphasis is gonna be on not having so much time between releases. [Laughing]

When do you think a new record is going to come out?
I can't say when it will be done. We just have a few tentative dates to go in. We like to break it up—go in for a few days, do some stuff and then come back a month later as opposed to going in there and trying to track a record in one session.

How does the new material compare to the old?
It's kinda hard to pinpoint right now but there's definitely on emphasis on maybe a more melodic approach on some of. It's still very rhythmic and still kinda reaches out for the full tilt craziness that the old stuff has. It's very interesting to start working on new things because you kinda have to figure out as a band how it's gonna work and what the process is for this new batch of material. No one really knows—it's very much trial and error and getting in there and trying to hash stuff out. I don't know if I could say or define a very specific new direction but it sounds different from the other stuff.

Some all-instrumental bands have added vocals into the formula. Is that something Psychic Paramount would consider?
I don't think we would rule that out but it probably would be Ben who would do anything vocal-wise. As of now, it's still all-instrumental.

Were you guys into the instrumental music that was big in the '90s, like Don Caballero?
Yeah, we've listened to that, but we also listen to stuff with vocals. It just so happens that [all-instrumental] is the approach that works best for us.

 

Do the three of you all have different musical tastes?
There's definitely a lot of overlap between the three of our tastes. Personally, it came out a while ago but I've been really into that last Flaming Lips record [Embryonic]. I really like that band Tinariwen from Mali. I got my old favorites, like this one band that was in New York in probably the early '90s called the Dustdevils.

Did you grow up here in New York back then and into the downtown scum rock stuff?
No, I was living in Kansas when I heard [Dustdevils]. I've always been a Sonic Youth fan, but the Dustdevils kinda have that going with their own version of that. That last record they did, Struggling, Electric and Chemical, it's one of my favorites. I love that record; I still listen to it.

How did you, Drew and Ben all meet?
Well, Ben and Drew have been friends forever. They both grew up around St. Louis and they've been in bands together since they were 14. They were in this New York band, which coincidentally, was one of my all time favorites called Laddio Bolocko. So they were in that band, that band broke up, dissolved then they started the Psychic Paramount, I guess a couple years later. They just did this real quick two-week tour in Europe and they had a different drummer and that didn't work out. So, I had a mutual friend who introduced us and then I started playing with them in 2004.

So, it's been a while.
Yeah, it's been a while. [Laughing]

Do you guys bring the smoke machine to gigs?
Sometimes we do, yeah. [Laughing]

Psychic Paramount certainly sets the mood with the plumes of smoke billowing and how dark it is at the gigs, huh?
We have this thing that we love doing now where we have these three super bright lights and we put'em behind us and then have all this smoke going and it's like... 

... Really trippy?
Yeah. [Laughing]

Have you guys always done the lights and smoke machine thing?
No, that's been a fairly recent thing. I guess maybe over the past year we started doing that. Sometimes, we can't always use it because some clubs have this sprinkler systems or whatever. [Laughing]

Is the smoke machine easy to haul around on tour?
Oh, it's pretty small. It's way smaller than a guitar so.... [Laughing]

 

I watched a clip online of you guys playing a show and it was during the day. Do you guys like playing shows in daylight?
No [Laughing]. It's not my favorite; I'd rather play at night. But, you know, it's fine and that festival [Primavera] was fun—right on the ocean, beautiful setting. It was kinda cool to see a bunch of people out there.

Will you have the smoke machine going at the (le) Poisson Rouge show?
I don't know. We're still looking into that. We'll see if that'll work out or not.

As a New York band, the Psychic Paramount seems kind of detached from "the scene," sort of anti-social.
Yeah, somehow we're existing out on our own little tangent here. [Laughing]

The song titles are pretty cryptic, too. On II, there's "DDB," "RW," "N5," N6... "
Very cryptic. We like to keep with the no vocals thing so the song titles, yeah, they all ended up being very cryptic on [II].

You guys are really fuckin' loud live.
Yeah, it's a trademark. [Laughing]

So Drew likes to get loud?
Yeah. We all do. [Laughing]

Psychic Paramount play (le) Poisson Rouge Saturday.
http://blogs.villagevoice.com/music/2012/05/psychic_paramount_interview.php

 

Freak Scene: Basilica and New York's Weird Music Scene

by Sam Hockley-Smith / THE FADER

...The event took place in an old factory with cavernous ceilings and massive old windows. It’s a gorgeous space perfect for both the weirdest of the weird and the most conventionally beautiful music around. Saturday night found a comfortable middle point. Beginning the night of music was Blanko & Noiry, a Lynchian performance featuring what basically amounted to an older dude singing in a disquieting baritone over gorgeously dark ambient music made by a couple people in robes. It was as bizarre as things got—enough that I’m not exactly sure how much I enjoyed it. There’s a point where the disconnect between what an artist intends and what an audience gets out of it gets too large, and that happened here for me. I just couldn’t connect. The biggest surprise of the night, though, was Hiro Kone, who built her set on thick pop music that breezed across the huge room—I’m tempted to say it was stoic but there was something unhinged about her performance as well.

 


The rest of the night was devoted to New York veterans Gang Gang Dance, who, every time I see them, get better at figuring out the parts of their music that people love the most and then drawing them out into full songs and Psychic Paramount, who blanketed the entire room in such thick smoke that you couldn’t see more than a few inches in front of you. It was loud and fully immersive. I think when this nebulous dark period of New York music is talked about, Psychic Paramount are a band that best represents that era. It’s not difficult to listen to, but it’s confrontational.

What I came away with is that whatever anyone might think is missing from New York’s experimental music scene…they’re not wrong, but they’re not right either. It’s just bubbling slightly under the surface, pushing against restraints, ready to be brought to the world’s attention so it can be awkwardly thrust onto a too big stage, and the real weirdness can begin.

Read more: http://www.thefader.com/2012/08/24/freak-scene-basilica-and-new-yorks-weird-music-scene/#ixzz24iIGM7uc
 

 

Live in New York at Irving Plaza

18 Eylül 2012 Salı
Zülâl Kalkandelen / Müzik Yazıları:


Müzik tutkusunu ateşe çeviren gruplar

Bu hafta New York’ta izlediğim konserler içinde özellikle ikisi beni çok etkiledi. Birisi daha önceden adını duyduğum ama müzikleriyle fazla haşır neşir olmadığım The Psychic Paramount, diğeri de ilk albümlerinden bu yana yakından izlediğim ve çok beğendiğim Future Islands. 

The Psychic Paramount’u izlemem tamamen güzel bir tesadüf oldu. The Jesus and Mary Chain konseri için bilet almıştım ama ön grup hakkında bilgim yoktu. Irving Plaza’daki gecenin açılışını The Vandelles yaptı. Onların arkasından sahneyi ve tüm salonu sis makinesinden çıkan dumanlar doldurdu. Birçok konserde yapılan bir uygulama bu, fakat bugüne kadar o derece yoğun kullanıldığına tanık olmamıştım. Yanımdaki insanın yüzünü göremez haldeydim dersem belki bir fikir verir. Sanırım en önde olduğumdan bütün dumanı da yuttum. Herkes ne oluyor, neden böyle göz gözü göremez bir ortam yaratıldı diye düşünürken birden müzik başladı. Sahneye iki gitarist ve bir bateristin çıkışını silüetlerinden anladık. Hiçbir şey demeden daha ilk dakikada farklı bir konser olacağının işaretini verdiler. Hiç vokal yoktu. Alışılmış şekilde bir süre sonra şarkının bitmesini bekleyen dinleyiciler tam anlamıyla afallamıştı; şarkı bitmiyor, uzadıkça uzuyordu. 45 dakika boyunca aralıksız süren bir set şeklinde çalıp sonunda hiçbir şey demeden ayrıldıklarında herkes birbirine “Bu neydi?” diye soruyordu.

Tanık olduğumuz New York’un noise rock üçlüsü The Psychic Paramount’un efsane performanslarından biriydi. Müziği bir tutku olarak gören, Amerika’da yaşamanın tek yolunun müzik tutkusunu bir aydınlanma aracı olarak kullanmaktan geçtiğine inananan bir grup bu. Bugünün indie rock dünyasını sürekli yakınmaları dile getiren içi boş bir dünya olarak görüyor ve orada yer almak istemiyorlar. Onların yapmak istediği, hissettiklerini doğrudan enstrümana söyletmek ve bunu da çok iyi başarıyorlar. 

 

Konserin başlangıcından bitimine kadar yüzlerini görmesem de, sadece arada bir ışık değişirken gölge şeklinde silüetlerini seçebilsem de, bir dinleyici olarak hisleri tamamen bana da geçti. Bugünün steril müzik dünyasının çok dışında, başka bir yere sürükledi beni The Psychic Paramount.

Onların açısından konserin nasıl olduğunu da biliyorum. Çünkü bunun özel olarak belli bir kişiyle değil ama genel olarak biriyle düşünsel anlamda seks yapmak gibi olduğunu söylemişti gitarist Drew St. Ivany. Kendileri o müziği icra ederek bu duyguyu yaşarken aynısını da dinleyiciye aktarıyorlar. Günümüzde az sayıda grupta var olan bir meydan okuma var tavırlarında. Sahneyi dumana boğup hiç gözükmemek de belli ki bu amaç doğrultusunda tercih edilen bir yol. Dinleyicinin bütünüyle kendi düşüncelerine odaklanması açısından çok etkili olduğunu söyleyebilirim. Ancak birçok kişinin de ne olup bittiğini tam idrak edemediğini, sahnede izleyecek bir şey olmayınca nereye bakıp nasıl duracağını da tam kestiremediğini gözlemledim. Müzikle alışılagelmiş görselliğin bağını koparınca dinleyicinin sadece müziğe odaklanması kolaylaştırılıyordu aslında. O gece müziğin içine girebilen herkes bunu çok yoğun yaşadı ama garipseyenler de oldu. 

 
 

The Psychic Paramount’u canlı dinlemek, sahnedeki görsellik ile müziğin algılanışı arasındaki ilişki hakkında epey kafa yoran biri olarak benim açımdan sıradışı bir deneyimdi. Bu konuda düşüncelerime yeni bir boyut katmış oldu konser. (Aşağıda paylaştığım videoda benim anlattığım ortam yok; görülebiliyor müzisyenler ama müzikleri hakkında fikir vermesi için yer verdim.)

SKREAM! INTERVIEW (JAPAN)

 

ニューヨークのスリー・ピース・バンド、THE PSYCHIC PARAMOUNT。前身となるLADDIO BOLOCKOを経て結成され、実験的なノイズやインプロの手法と衝動的なライヴでカルト的な人気を誇る。前作から約5年、待望の新作『II』ではさらに その音楽性を推し進め、あの世界的音楽サイトPitchforkをして、8.2点の高評価。BATTLESがキュレーターを務める今冬の英国フェス “All Tomorrow’s Parties”にも参加、アーティストの中にもファンが多いという、そんな注目バンドの彼らが今回、メール・インタヴューに応じてくれた。

THE PSYCHIC PARAMOUNT : Drew St. Ivany (Gt)
INTERVIEWER : 中里 友

Skream! 初登場なので、まずはどのように3人が出会い、どういう経 でバンドが生まれたのか教えてください。Ben ArmstrongDrew St. Ivanyは以前、 “LED ZEPPELIN meets CAN”とも評されたLADDIO BOLOCKOというバンドを組んでいたということですが。

LADDIO BOLOCKOが2001年に解散して、翌年俺がフランスで暮らしていたときにTPPを結成したんだ。5日ほど練習して、フランスやイタリアをツアーした のさ。1stアルバムの『Gamelan Into the Mink Supernatural』に収録してあるそのときの楽曲は、敢えて危険を冒そうと自由度の高いギター・リフで作られているんだ。相当盛り上げた部分もあ るから、ところどころすごくワイルドだね。いろんなことがあってバンドは解散寸前だったけど、かろうじてツアーだけはやりとげたよ。1年くらい後にアメリ カに戻って、ニューヨークでおれたちはJeff Conawayとプレイし始めて、それからはずっと同じラインナップだよ。

-今作『』は前作『Gamelan Into The Mink Supernatural』と地続きでいながら、音は立体化し、さらにスケールアップした印象がありました。サウンドに関して、一貫したコンセプトはあったのですか?

俺たちが目指したのはエキサイティングなロック・ミュージックで、人々を夢中にさせる幻想的な音だ。もともと俺らは すごくラウドだし、それがうまくいくとパワフルかつエキサイティングに場の空気を燃え上がらすことができるのさ。その盛り上がりをレコーディングに反映さ せることが目標だったんだ。ヴォーカルがいないから、言葉とか歌詞なんて要らないと思えるほどのサウンドを作らなきゃと常に思っているよ。俺たちにとって は理に適った方法でも、このコンセプトはなぜか今日の音楽では普通じゃないみたいだけどね

-「SP、「DDB」、「N5」「N6」など記号のような曲は何か意図があるのでしょうか。

それぞれの楽曲を区別するイニシャルに過ぎないよ。人の名前みたいなもので特に意味はない。単なる識別さ。

-前作から約5年間、ライヴ盤や再発盤を挟んではいましたが、ここまでリリースに時間が掛かったのはなぜでしょうか?

この質問には満足してもらえるような答えは絶対出てこないな。この作品に限って、おれたちの楽曲制作のプロセスは ゆっくりで、オーガニックな感じに見えるだろう。最初に手を付けたのは2008年で、そのときにマテリアルの一部を録音し、セッションは捨ててね。その後 1年くらい経って、今度は違うスタジオで同じ曲を数曲、新曲と併せてレコーディングし直したんだ。全部で12日か13日スタジオにいたんじゃないかな。ス イスの画家、Paul Kleeの“芸術に完成はない。途中で手を止めるだけだ”という言葉を知っているかい?つまりマテリアルの持つ可能性をおれたちは長いこと探究し続けてい て、そしてある地点でその実験が終わったということだよ。

-楽曲はジャムやインプロヴィゼーションから生まれるのでしょうか。

ほとんどがそうだね。気に入ったアイデアを出し合って、その上に作り上げていくんだ。最初のインプロヴィゼーションをちゃんと再現出来ないこともあって、そんなときは曲がどんどん違う形に変化し、新たなものが生まれていくよ。

-TPPの音楽はとてもストイックで混沌としていながら、少しの儚さを感じます。また、荒涼として無機質 でいながら、気持ちを揺さぶる熱いものがあります。ある種の美意識のもと、ストイックに音楽活動をしている印象があるのですが、3人共通のコンセンサスが あるとしたら何でしょう?

この観点は好きだな。すごくロマンチックだよ。おれたちはみんなアメリカの中西部で育ち、高校を卒業してまもなく ニューヨークへやってきたんだ。その共通項だけでも実際大きな意味を持っているよ。自分をよく知ってるヤツに己のことを説明するヤツはいないだろう?でも 俺たちは未だに言い争うことがあるんだ。それは例えば、Jeffの好きじゃないアーティストの中にも、俺とBenは気に入っている曲がある、みたいなこと さ。だから俺らの音楽にそういう口出しはナシってことは決めたんだ。

-音楽的にこだわり続けているものは何でしょう?

まずはすごくハイな気分になって、それからプレイするってことだね。

-ジャケットのフォトやフィルムの、一貫してモノクロなアート・ワークにはあなた方の音世界を非常によく表していると思いますが、実際にそういう狙いはありますか?
 

 



ヴィジュアル的な部分はいつも最後の仕事で、それがサウンドの雰囲気に近づいているならすごく満足だよ。スモークの 中でバックライトに照らされて演奏するのが好きで、この音楽にはそれが最適のセッティングだと思っているんだ。影と照明のあたる部分が大事で、そこでサウ ンドが生きるんだ。

-灰野啓二やDON CABALLERO、LIGHTNING BOLTSteve Albiniなどの影響を感じますが、実際どのようなものから影響を受けていますか?音楽以外でも構いません。

ここに挙げられたアーティストはみんな好きだけど、特に誰かに影響を受けたということはないよ。Steve Albiniは別だけどね。俺たちが彼のレコードを聴いてきたように、1990年代初頭はどのバンドも彼のサウンドから影響を受けていたよ。俺たちが曲作 りで自身のサウンドやスタイルを見出したのはもう随分前のことで、今は己のスタイルの可能性を探索することにフォーカスを当てているんだ。その間ずっとさ まざまアートにインスパイアされてきたし、それを要約するのは不可能だよ。変と思うだろうけど、俺たちのなかにあるクラシック・ロックは、伝統的なフォー ク音楽に最も近いものなんだ。それを土台にノイズからフリージャズ、モダン・クラシカル、アフリカン、エレクトロニックといった音楽の要素を導入している のさ。最後には同じ曲のなかでBo DiddleyからKRAFTWERKまで描くことになるかもな。結局は本当に一体感を持てるものと繋がるんだろうし、そうじゃなければ放棄するよ。

-TPPの音楽をご自身の表現で定義づけるとしたら、何になりますか?

ロック。へヴィとかインストって言うこともできるかな。

-注目しているアーティストやシーンがあれば教えて下さい。

今注目しているのは、PANICSVILLE、EARTHLESS、TERMINAL LOVERS、Steve Moore、ALUK TODOLO、MELVINS、BOREDOMS、だね。

-12月にはBATTLESキュレートで、イギリスで開催されるフェスティヴァル“All Tomorrow's Parties(ATP)”に出演されますね。TPPのサウンドは是非ともライヴで体験したいと感じさせますが、どのようなステージングを目指していますか?

フェスでのギグはいつも少し慌ただしくて、ちゃんとコントロールできるとは限らないな。だから俺たちは俺たちのするべきことをして、思い切りサウンドを押し出すだけだね。心の底から遊んでほしいよ!
 

Drew St. Ivany - 16mm still | credit: Aran Tharp
 

The Dark Light

BY MARYAM MATH
appearing in The Daily | March 16, 2011

The Psychic Paramount pushes the sound beyond songs

At some point in the late ’60s, a certain brand of loud guitar music began to form. Black Sabbath’s doomy plod was the rough base for this new sound, though it also drew from the work of obscure ’60s bands labeled “psychedelic” (mostly because nobody else knew what to call guitar music that buried the vocals and refused to play nice). Over the past 40 years, much of this music has been called “heavy metal,” even though this particular music has little investment in charging forward or telling stories, and metal often does. Eventually, “heavy music” became the going term for this sound; local promoter Adam Shore has created a concert series called Blackened that specializes in booking “heavy” acts. This appellation works slightly better than most genre names because it is so loose — and there is no single way to describe heavy bands. All are loud, some painfully so; most are centered around a traditional rock-band setup, though some aren’t; and all of them make some part of the experience unusually intense.

New York’s the Psychic Paramount is as heavy as it gets. The guitar, bass and drums trio uses no singing, and stretches most of its songs past the five-minute mark. Last week at Death By Audio in Brooklyn, The Daily watched the band play to a small, passionate crowd (made up mostly of men in their late 30s with beards). The room filled with smoke, and the band was backlit with strong lights that made the members’ faces impossible to see. When the music was over, it felt like we’d all been driven around the block in a van full of bowling balls, blindfolded, and then placed back where we had started. (In a good way.) Not ones to play shows or record often, the band answered a few questions from The Daily.

You have been together a fairly long time but haven’t released many recordings. What’s the story?

Drew St. Ivany, guitarist: [Bassist] Ben Armstrong and I were in Laddio Bolocko until that band broke up in 2000. We formed the Psychic Paramount in November 2002 and did a tour in France and Italy with drummer Tatsuya Nakatani. The band lasted only two or three weeks. The decision was made to reignite the band in 2004, and we began rehearsing in New York. [Drummer] Jeff Conaway, who played in Sabers, was introduced to us by mutual friends. We went into the studio shortly after and recordedGamelan Into the Mink Supernatural.

We decided to start work on a new album in 2007. In 2008, we went into a studio and recorded basic tracks for the album, which were ditched. Another two or three years went by in a flash. Finally, we went in to another studio and rerecorded everything in 2009, and finished mixing it in 2010.

During all that time, we toured sporadically in Europe and the United States. To say we spent an excessive amount of time experimenting and exploring new ideas in our studio is an understatement. There are heaps of abandoned material.

 

The combination of backlighting, smoke and music is fairly assaultive. How do you navigate the line between music and pure overload?

Drew: We tend to navigate recklessly, and sometimes exciting things happen. It’s not fail-safe. We want the show to be action-packed, sonically, but we’re not trying to be aggressive. People have different thresholds.

Jeff: It can be jarring. Our friend Aran Tharp was in charge of the lighting and smoke at Death by Audio. During certain shows, he is shooting film and has a hand-held spotlight.

Someone called out Big Black’s “Jordan, Minnesota” at the beginning of the show. That song is over 20 years old — what does a reference like that mean to you guys?

Jeff: I thought they were saying “Jojo Monshtafo.”

Drew: I guess the atmosphere reminded them of Big Black. We should have brought firecrackers.

Are there other bands you feel a kinship with now?

Drew: Aluk Todolo.

Jeff: I always had a great time at Coptic Light shows, but they are defunct now. I thought we fit well together.

Music like the Psychic Paramount’s is probably not hugely commercial. In light of that, what do you see as the mission of the band?

Drew: There is no good way to justify an addiction.

Jeff: I always think of it as making what you would want to hear yourself. Not only are we heavy, but there is no singing. I love the challenge of making instrumental music, and so many times singers and/or lyrics are the downfall of otherwise good music.

 

RHYTHMIC RIFFS OF EXPLOSIVE, MANIC INSTRUMENTAL ENERGY

The New York Times

MARCH 7, 2011
By BEN RATLIFF

The Psychic Paramount doesn’t use words. It’s a rock trio without a singer, just guitar-bass-drums, and it lives entirely in the brawny lead-up, the big gestures of riff, rhythm and echo that generally point toward the real composed beginning of a song, the part that we end up whistling.

But there is no such song forthcoming. So the group’s show at Death by Audio, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, late Saturday sounded like the instrumental way stations within a bloodthirsty performance by a band with songs (like, say, the Who’s in “Live at Leeds”) stretched across more than an hour. Or like free jazz with rock syncopation and dynamics. There’s some pacing, some narrative, lots of purpose, but the basic idea is to be always exploding in your face.

It makes lots of sense. The idea is right, the scale is right, the time is right. (Repetition is mother’s milk to all of us, and who needs another rock band with lyrics?) Sure, this music can grow tiresome. It was also very loud on Saturday. But the tired feeling you might have gotten was not solo fatigue. The guitarist Drew St. Ivany, the center of the band, didn’t play traditional solos in any sense. With Jeff Conaway’s syncopated drum groove and a blown-out repeated bass line (by Ben Armstrong) that contains an octave jump, suddenly this felt like progressive rock from 30 years ago except that the songs didn’t become fancy with chord changes. Instead, Mr. St. Ivany just repeated an extended-harmony chord for minutes at a time. He strummed fast, his guitar running through a couple of digital filters to make the sound ringing and rubbery. Or he took his hands off the fretboard and manipulated loops and feedback, making whining and roaring and percussive sounds — amazing sounds really.

Saturday’s show wasn’t improvisational, either. It drew directly from the shape of the pieces on the band’s new record, “II,” and the previous one, from 2005, “Gamelan Into the Mink Supernatural,” rather than expand and contract and move forward in free improvisation, as the band did back at the beginning, nine years ago.

In all that time the Psychic Paramount has moved pretty slowly up the ladder of local sound systems, and Death by Audio’s didn’t quite cut it; the show could not replicate anything like the pressurized feeling of “II.” You should see the group at a festival that will put the band in the right place with the right sound. Or you should hear “II.” Or you should just experience someone raving about what the Psychic Paramount amounts to at its idealized best: a manic ongoing present.

A version of this review appeared in print on March 7, 2011, on page C5 of the New York edition.
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/07/arts/music/07dba.html

 

Yellow Green Red
Sunday, May 15th, 2011 | Interviews | YGR


Blowing minds with one’s guitar/bass/drums rock band is nearly impossible in 2011, but if there’s any band doing it, it’s The Psychic Paramount. Formed out of the ashes of (the under-appreciated until after their demise) Laddio Bolocko, The Psychic Paramount take the simple concept of instrumental rock music and set the whole thing ablaze, using their superior musical ability not to dazzle or confuse but to translate the musical experience into a physical one. Their sound hits with force, charisma and vigor, as if the natural limitations of drums and amplified guitars don’t apply to this band, acting not as three separate players but a single indestructible unit. This is why their great new album, II, packs more emotion and provokes more thought than any other rock band I’ve recently headbanged to. I chatted with guitarist Drew St. Ivany about The Psychic Paramount, and while I wouldn’t have blamed him if he spoke only in the form of an obtuse metaphorical haiku (when your music sounds like this, you get full rights to be as pretentious as you want), he’s actually a pretty down-to-earth, awesome guy.


How did you guys know each other before starting The Psychic Paramount? I understand that some if not all of you played together in Laddio Bolocko…
Both Ben (Armstrong, bassist) and I played in Laddio Bolocko, which formed in 1997 in New York. Laddio split up in 2001 and soon afterward I moved to France. In 2002, Ben and I decided to form a new band and booked a tour of France and Italy. Ben suggested getting Tatsuya Nakatani to play drums, basically at the last minute. Those guys flew out to practice for a few days and do the tour. That formation split up after two and a half weeks. Jeff Conaway, who was playing in Sabers, joined as drummer in 2004 when Ben and I started playing again in New York. Since then, it’s been the same line-up.


Do you feel like the band has progressed since Gamelan Into The Mink Supernatural?
Gamelan summed up the essence of what we were doing at that time. Enough so, we thought, that it seemed redundant to go on pushing those extremes onto new ideas. I’m not sure how to assess where we’ve arrived in terms of progress. On a good day, I do feel like we’re a better band now than at any time in the past. I feel like II is definitely a logical continuation from Gamelan… the power and force is still there, but it also seems to stretch out a bit, in certain ways.


Has your song-writing process changed at all, or has it always been a certain way?
Gamelan was composed entirely on the guitar, which is probably the way most rock songs start out. A lot of material on II originated from drum beats we would use as a rhythmic foundation to experiment upon and build ideas. Sometimes radically different variations of tracks emerged. For instance, “N5” and “N5 Coda” are two different compositional approaches to the same drum figure.


The song titles on the new album all seem to be based in practicality, versus any sort of artistic purpose. Was this an intentional move, or do you just not put a lot of weight into the name of a song?
It just worked out that way. Song titles are usually expected but seemed irrelevant for this record. The abbreviations are convenient, but they also help to reinforce our decidedly non-verbal atmosphere.

Jeff Conaway | photo : Ebru Yildiz

 

Is the “non-verbal atmosphere” an intentional one, then? I can see how a band like The Psychic Paramount has no need for a singer or lyrics or evocative imagery… you guys seem to be about the music and only the music, in a way.
An escape from words can be liberating. On a recording, we are dealing only with sound and leaving any implication or storytelling up to the imagination. It may be interesting to find out what kind of mental imagery our music evokes in the listener, if any. I’ve had people describe it to me as being very dark and menacing. I feel it full of light and uplifting. In that way, I don’t see the absence of lyrics in our case as reductive. It challenges us musically to come up with something interesting enough to compensate for the lack of vocals which, for most people, are an integral part of rock music.


Do you feel like today’s fast-moving culture has less of a place for a group like The Psychic Paramount than say, two or three decades ago? It seems like unless a band is releasing a consistent flow of new music, they are nearly forgotten about. Is this something you ever consider? Do you care?
We care about that, but it’s further down the list of life concerns. Letting five or more years go by between records doesn’t help public awareness very much, but releasing two or three more Gamelans in the meantime is obviously not going to land us in the Billboard 100 either. Our audience is small and probably, like us, has high standards. We can relate to that. As such, we’d rather take more time to do it right than to release something we aren’t totally happy with.


How long will it be until you start writing new material? Do you specifically take breaks after a new record, or have you already started working on new ideas?
We’re planning on going back into the studio this summer. We’d like to have something new come out this year, but with us who knows? We’ve learned not to predict when that might be until a project is completely done.

 

Is there room for instrumentation besides bass / drums / guitar in The Psychic Paramount?
Jeff sometimes plays a contact mic running through effects and an amplifier. You can hear it on Gamelan, track four. It sounds like an android. Sometimes he plays this live. On the new record, Ben plays air organ on a couple tracks.


From listening to your records, it’s pretty evident that you are all incredibly talented players, but often the songs themselves aren’t necessarily difficult to follow. Do you purposefully dial yourselves down when it comes to songwriting, to not go off and try to be “crazier” or whatever?
We want our music to be inviting. We’re not trying to throw people off the train. People sometimes describe us as math rock, but it feels more like alchemy than mathematics. You could say that compositionally it’s very basic, but there is a lot going on. Our songs are still very challenging for us to play well.


That’s one thing I really appreciate about your music, that on paper the notes and riffs are probably pretty easy for anyone to play, but I don’t think any other group of people could play them and sound like The Psychic Paramount.
Thanks! That’s also true for most good bands. Classical music needs virtuosos, but rock prefers identity and confidence. You might only need two notes, but you definitely need a sound.


Confirm or deny: The Psychic Paramount have “stage clothes” that you wear at all/most of your performances.
Absolutely, all my clothes look the same.


How do you describe your band to strangers? Is it rock music?
I usually just say loud rock. It’s hard to gauge common reference points with strangers. A while back, this kid who looked at least 18 or 20 years old asked me what we sounded like. I described it as kind of like Jimi Hendrix doing guitar feedback for 40 minutes. He said, “Jimi Hendrix, am I supposed to know who that is?”


How does that make you feel? I can understand someone born in the ‘90s not having a deep knowledge of ‘60s rock, but does that sort of thing make you wonder if the youth is just less interested in rock music?
I don’t know. The genre is so broad. Even though most of the current rock scene may not be very good, I’m sure there’s still a young audience there. The best stuff is underground, and that’s probably more true now than ever before.

 

 

Dusted Features
Listed: The Psychic Paramount / Drew St. Ivany

Forged from the falling out of NYC math-noise monoliths Laddio Bolocko (an erstwhile alchemy of Panicsville/Dazzling Killmen itself), as the newly christened The Psychic Paramount, guitarist Drew St. Ivany and bass player Ben Armstrong have totally won the breakup. Their relationship, though, hasn’t exactly been a fertile one. The stellar Gamelan Into the Mink Supernaturalcame out on No Quarter way back in the summer of ‘05. Before that even, all their union with late-to-the-church drummer Jeff Conaway had yielded was an odds & sods comp and a few live sets from either side of the Pyrenees. Thus, it was with cautious hands and bated breath that we dropped the needle on their newest, II, earlier this month. And as our own Mason Jones was quick to pronounce, “I’ll be surprised if I hear a rock album this year that packs as strong a punch as II.” Looking at some of St. Ivany’s picks here, however, and the next Psychic Paramount record might just surprise us all. Extra punch points for the MacLise shout-out, Drew.

1. Black Sabbath - Sabotage
An easy one that kicks right in with "Hole in the Sky.” The ultimate Sabbath party record.

2. Gunter Schickert - Samtvogel
Possibly the best echo guitar record ever made; either this one or A.R. & Machines - Die Grüne Reise.

3. Nurse With Wound - Merzbild Schwet
Listening to this is a perfect way to get in the mood for just about anything.

4. Institut für Psycho-Hygiene / Rudolf Eb.er - Lieder Zur Anal.ytischen Selbsverkrüppelung
The title pretty much says it all.

5. Kim Duk Soo - Samulnori 2xCD
Samulnori is Korean farmer percussion music which apparently dates back to 300 A.D. Traditionally comprised of four musicians on specific types of gongs and drums, Kim Duk Soo expanded this form for a larger ensemble and that’s what you’ll hear on these amazing discs.

6. Chrome - Half Machine Lip Moves
Back in high school, Ben’s Ford LTD had a piece-of-shit car stereo. I think he was punching it out of frustration and this album got stuck in the cassette deck. We literally tripped on it for weeks. When he finally got the cassette out, the Surfers’ Locust Abortion Technician became firmly implanted.

7. The Aesthetics - My Right to Riches
A cool band from New Zealand. Sort of like Chrome but more punk garage.

8. Angus MacLise - Astral Collapse
Ritual music from the elusive and complicated first drummer of the Velvets. This beatnik can teach you how to do it.

9. The OKeh Laughing Record
This record is so magical, it can turn a man into a baby.

10. Flipper - “Sex Bomb” b/w “Brainwash
Punk storytelling classic.

 

AV2.jpg
 

The Psychic Paramount : Interview - wywiad September, 2010 Katowice, Poland

Koncert The Psychic Paramount był jednym z powodów, dla których Scena Eksperymentalna najbardziej przypadła nam do gustu spośród scen Offa. Miło zobaczyć w Polsce zespół, który wykorzystując rockowe patenty buduje coś nowego, zarazem idą trochę pod prąd modnym tendencjom. Choć motoryczna, przestrzenna muzyka The Psychic Paramount skrzydła rozwija na koncertach, coś nam mówi, że ich (wreszcie) nadchodząca nowa płyta uchwyci jej sedno i moc. Przed Wami wywiad z trio z Brooklynu.

Na pierwszym koncercie w Polsce zagraliście dwa utwory z „Gamelan Into Mink Supernatural”, a reszta utworów była nowa. Od „Gamelan…” minęło pięć lat. Skąd aż tak długa przerwa?

[Ben Armstrong – bas] Cóż… Od czego by tu zacząć.

[Jeff Conaway – perkusja] Nowy album jest już skończony, niedługo powinien się ukazać.

[Drew St. Ivany – gitara] Nazywa się „II”, co okazało się nieco prorocze, bo nie nagraliśmy go w pierwszym podejściu. Nie byliśmy szczególnie zachwyceni pierwszym nagraniem tej płyty, więc spędziliśmy trochę czasu na nicnierobieniu, a później nagraliśmy ją drugi raz.

[Ben] Nie chodziło jednak tylko o kwestie techniczne. Zmodyfikowaliśmy piosenki, poprawiliśmy, stały się bardziej zwarte. Gdy nagrywaliśmy pierwszy raz wystąpiły też pewne problemy z brzmieniem, których nie potrafiliśmy przeskoczyć. Postaraliśmy się więc o nowy budżet, by nagrać od początku.

Kiedy odbyła się te sesja?

[Jeff] Pierwsza była chyba latem 2008. Drugą zaczęliśmy pod koniec października 2009. Już prawie skończyliśmy, musimy jeszcze trochę popracować nad dźwiękiem, ale w 95 % płyta już jest gotowa.

Kiedy możemy się jej spodziewać?

[Ben] Jeśli nie pod koniec tego roku, to na początku następnego. Tak jak pierwsza płyta, wyjdzie ona w No Quarter.

 


Wasza pierwsza płyta powstała na żywo, na w trasie po Francji i Włoszech. Koncert na Off pokazał, że Wasza muzyka jest typowo koncertowa – na żywo brzmienie nabiera rozmachu. W studio też nagrywacie na 100%?

[Drew] Zasadniczo staramy się grać razem jak najwięcej. Na nowej płycie nagraliśmy jednak parę kawałków w zupełnie oddzielnych partiach.

[Ben] Większość płyty nagraliśmy na żywo. Jednak pewnych rzeczy nie da się zrobić w ten sposób. Jeśli pomyślisz o komplikacjach wynikających z nagrywania dziesięciominutowego kawałka, łatwiej jest to zrobić w częściej. A już gdy chce się podwoić partię gitarową, po prostu nie można tego zrobić na żywo.

Kiedy słuchałem Waszych nowych piosenek, miałem wrażenie, że jest w nich więcej narracji i budowania atmosfery niż w starszym materiale. Czy w tym przejawia się ta zwartość, o której wspomnieliście?

[Jeff] Myślę, że samo połączenie wszystkich składowych naszej muzyki tworzy swego rodzaju narracyjność. Ale z drugiej strony, dzieje się to w bardzo zredukowanej formule. Nasza muzyka opiera się na repetycjach, próbujemy stworzyć utwór z najbardziej podstawowych elementów, wręcz celowo zawężając paletę. Nadal jednak chodzi o uzyskanie skończonej piosenkę, przy użyciu bardzo prostych elementów.

[Drew] Na pewno zmieniły się okoliczności, w jakich powstawały starsze i nowe utwory. Pierwszy album, czy też pierwszy zestaw utworów na drugi, składał się raczej z ogólnych pomysłów, proces komponowania był tak jakby bezterminowy, nie miał domknięcia. Wiedzieliśmy od czego zaczniemy i mniej więcej wiedzieliśmy na czym skończymy, więc w środku utworu w pewien sposób podróżowaliśmy wspólnie, by dotrzeć to tego punktu. Natomiast nowe kawałki są zdecydowanie bardziej skomponowane. Bardziej przemyślane. Nie tyle na samej zasadzie kompozycyjnej, co raczej w wyniku tego, że o wiele więcej ćwiczyliśmy. Podczas prób naprawdę ograliśmy ten materiał i decydowaliśmy, które elementy muzyki zostaną. Dotyczy to szczególnie gitary. Na pierwszym albumie sednem gitary były sola, teraz dużo ważniejsza jest motoryka, powiedziałbym nawet, że minimalistyczna.

[Ben] Oraz bardziej rytmiczna. Tych punktów, węzłów, o których wspomniał Ben, mieliśmy przy nagrywaniu drugiej płyty zdecydowanie więcej.

Wspomnieliście o takich charakterystykach jak repetycja, motoryka, minimalizm. To fundamenty krautrocka. Czy zespoły krautrockowe Was inspirują? 

[Wszyscy] Tak, zdecydowanie.

 

[Drew] Dorastając w środkowo-zachodniej Ameryce, jak my wszyscy, wychowujesz się w klimacie klasycznego rocka z lat 60tych/70tych. Teraz, szczególnie dla mnie, choć myślę, że dla chłopaków też, wszystkie te zespoły jak Can, Faust czy Kraftwerk, koniecznie trzeba też wspomnieć o This Heat i nawet Boredoms, stały się obecnie klasyką rocka. Może wielu ludzi nigdy nie słyszało takich zespołów jak Harmonia i tym podobne. Ale my słuchamy ich od tak dawna, że chyba nie mają już na nas tak bezpośredniego wpływu, nie usłyszysz ich wyraźnie w naszej muzyce. Wpływ był widoczny jakieś piętnaście lat temu, gdy naprawdę przetrawialiśmy cały krautrock. Teraz jest to dla nas naturalne środowisko.

Czy fakt, że krautrock był europejskim tworem, zwiększał dla Was jego atrakcyjność względem amerykańskiego kanonu, na którym się wychowaliście?

[Drew] Tak naprawdę, większość zespołów, których słuchałem w młodości, było z Anglii. The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin. Haczyk w dorastaniu w środkowej Ameryce polega na tym, że wszyscy są przekonani, że to Amerykanie wymyślili rock’n’roll, bo wywodzi się on z czarnej muzyki. Ale przecież wszystkie naprawdę innowacyjne zespoły, jak te wyżej, ale też chwytliwe, jak The Kinks, są w większości brytyjskie. Tak więc krautrock jako europejski, był po prostu trochę bardziej egzotyczny te piętnaście lat temu, ale już nie jest. Nie wydaje się odległy.

[Jeff] Chciałem jeszcze powiedzieć, że kiedy ja po raz pierwszy spotkałem się z krautrockiem, byłem naprawdę pod wrażeniem. Moim zdaniem te zespoły w pewien sposób wyprzedziły, przewidziały nadejście muzyki dance i wielu innych rzeczy, które wydarzyły się w muzyce elektronicznej, muzyce opartej na rytmie, na groove. Moim zdaniem było to bardzo świeże, zwłaszcza, że wydarzyło się wcześniej od muzyki stricte elektronicznej. Według mnie istnieje duży kontrast pomiędzy tym wszystkim a klasycznym rockiem, dominującym w Stanach. Ale myślę, że sam teraz próbuję wrzucać do jednego worka z klasycznym rockiem, który lubię, współczesne zespoły, których kompozycje nie rozwijają się w organiczny sposób, są więźniami zwrotkowo-refrenowej konwencji. My staramy się, by nasze utwory właśnie ewoluowały organiczne, żeby kolejne pasaże wynikały z siebie, nawet jeśli jest dużo repetycji i zmiany, które następują, są subtelne.

Odniosłem wrażenie, że Wasze koncertowe brzmienie jest bardzo dojrzałe, że macie je pod kontrolą. Czy ewolucja i coraz lepsza kontrola brzmienia pomaga Wam tworzyć bardziej złożoną muzykę na drugim albumie? Bardziej zaplanowaną?

[Drew] To delikatna sprawa, bo kiedy brzmienie jest w centrum, to możesz komponować, zmieniać, przebudowywać muzykę, ćwiczyć się w detalach, ale jeśli brzmienie nie będzie takie, jakiego oczekiwałeś, nie czujesz się z nim dobrze, wtedy cała reszta przestaje mieć znaczenie. Zawsze pierwszą rzeczą, o którą się martwisz, jest sound. To zawiła kwestia, ale właśnie w tym leży problem.
 

 

[Ben] Wiele zespołów używa na trasach pożyczonego sprzętu różnego rodzaju, monitorów, bębnów, itd., żeby zarobić pieniądze. My zawsze wypożyczamy vana i bierzemy ze sobą wszystko, co będzie nam potrzebne. Chcemy mieć pewność, że mamy pod ręką nasz sprzęt i możemy kontrolować brzmienie najlepiej, jak tylko możliwe. Za każdym razem jest oczywiście trochę inaczej, ale staramy się tak właśnie działać. W efekcie, na trasie ginie nam połowa sprzętu (śmiech). Dzisiaj używaliśmy wyjątkowo dużo nie naszego sprzętu, swoje mieliśmy tylko gitary i efekty – przylecieliśmy ze Stanów tylko na ten koncerty. Ta scena miała sporo pogłosu, co powodowało problemy, z którymi człowiekowi nie chce się borykać gdy gra, ale musi.

[Drew] Tak naprawdę kontrolować brzmienie jest ciężko, trudniej niż się wydaje.

[Jeff] Brzmienie jest skrajnie ważne, gdy tworzy się rockową, instrumentalną muzykę. Nie mamy wokalisty, który wyjdzie na scenę i przyciągnie uwagę widowni. Więc każdy instrument musi brzmieć naprawdę świetne.

Jeśli brzmienie jest tak ważne, jakie zespoły najbardziej cenicie za ten właśnie element? 

[Drew] Często jest to przypadkowe. Tak czysto dźwiękowo rzecz biorąc, powiem, że pierwszy album Suicide ma cudowne brzmienie. Płyta „'77 Live” Les Rallizes Dénudés ma kapitalne, bardzo romantyczne brzmienie, choć nie wiem, czy tak planowali. Te dwie rzeczy przychodzą mi od razu do głowy.

[Ben] Lubię rzeczy wydane przez Chrome Records. Są nagrane pozornie w złej jakości, w naprawdę dziwnym, kiepskim studiu. To są najbardziej magiczne płyty. Nagrywane na mały magnetofon, potem składane do kupy i efektem jest nieprzewidywalny, szalony dźwięk. Nie możesz tego zrobić w studio. My staramy się używać naprawdę dobrego sprzętu, co również daje świetne brzmienie, ale jeśli się z tym przesadzi, można stracić całą magię.

[Jeff] Ciężko jest utrzymać równowagę. Jeśli coś, co planujesz od początku ma w sobie tę dziwną energię, to gdy brzmienia jest tanie, kiepskie, właśnie ta energia decyduje o atrakcyjności całości. Próbujemy uzyskać równowagę stosując bardziej wyrafinowaną jakość dźwięku i nadal zachowując tę energię w muzyce.

Dzięki za rozmowę.

[Piotr Lewandowski]

http://www.popupmusic.pl/no/28/artykuly/323/the-psychic-paramount-wywiad

The Psychic Paramount  Live 2002 The Franco-Italian Tour
Public Guilt, 2006
Tiny Mix Tapes review
rating: 5/5

Why is this a perfect record? Because it's an infinite, sweaty, and filthy mess is why. Ever see or hear a great live performance and then hear the same material given the studio treatment and felt like something's missing? Well, this is the first Psychic Paramount I ever heard (this disc is actually a repressing), and I can safely say: great band, but you HAVE TO buy them live. That's right, this is a gun. So's this album. Blow your own brains out, kid. Fuse them back together with modeling clay and toothpicks and jam it all back in the skull. Dig on the rest of the CD. Let it dig on you. All kindsa dirt-rain goin on here. Unevenly sized dirt-rain. Sideways dirt-rain. Even dirt-rain that seems to come straight up under the neath!

Spiky and chaotic, this is one of the best rock albums ever, because it takes all of the imagination and piqued rock-out savvy of previous band Laddio Bolocko, throws it at a roaring jet turbine, and everybody gets good and hurt. Everybody loses an eye. Some of this material is also on the group's debut album, Gamelan into The Mink Supernatural, which - I was surprised to hear - still retains that spiking-in-the-red sound quality (or maybe I just don't have a powerful enough stereo). So which do you buy? I'd suggest this one. It's decidedly more of a ragin' off-road experience, though both will equally steam-press your face flush to the back of your head -- no bs. Both releases sound as if someone was in a big hurry to hit the record button and to engineer it could only slowfade the shit in and out. Both releases feel like some massive, innate rock energy just barely contained by the wincing nearby mic sensors. The Franco-Italian Tour is a freak force of nature, even at its mathiest. The "Perpignan Pt. Two" half of the fourth track is a punchy good example of this side. Expanded for the title track of the studio album, the song works like a wall-pressed breaking news bulletin on TV. Only the stabbing alert trills just keep drowning out the actual report (I picture those blocky Wonder Showzen anchormen with all the twitching gauges on them). 

Can't pretend to have the key to perfection. Don't really need to. Psychic Paramount's got the powder keg to blow that particular fortress wide open. Maybe the perfection within will be obliterated -- or half-obliterated -- but we'll get the general idea. Perhaps perfect is never making the listener question what it is they're listening to. Perfect is putting out two albums of roughly the same material, because these feel more like super high-pressured combustions than compositions. It's immediate and miraculous rock that doesn't say: wait'll you see what we got next. Instead this is the best parts of the most raucous rock anthems charging into the face of a tornado. But maybe The Paramount will have something better down the line. It makes no difference to me. They've come out of the gates at what I assume to be the very top of their game. Come into close, combustible (i.e.-loud) contact with this stuff and you'll be as ready to jump out of your skin with excitement as I am. (Don't get too cozy in the silence between tracks four and five!) 

willcoma

 

THE PSYCHIC PARAMOUNT : LIVE AT THE TALKING HEAD REVIEW – BALTIMORE CITY PAPER

Dec. 6, 2006

Hard and Soft Machines       

Prog is back. This may not be news to you longtime math-rock fans out there – or to the millions who buy Tool, System of a Down, and Mars Volta records – but we’ll still pretend we’re kinda surprised for rhetorical purposes. As local opener Hymnen pulled serious concentration faces and worked its epic and intricate indie-rock time changes and dramatic vocal turns – “They’re all about… togetherness.” an audience member noted – the Talking Head filled up with a mix of hipsters, metalheads, and, weirdly, more preppy college kids and girls than you’d ever expect could be roused for a night of what a friend neatly summed up as “drug music.” Maybe a whole generation that grew up staring at Dad’s Roger Dean posters is finally coming of age.

The Psychic Paramount is made up three unassuming looking dudes from New York – two of whom used to be in the late, lamented, and little-heard Laddio Bolocko – who set up their basic guitar-bass-drums in traditional garage band formation and then proceeded to make a mockery of just about every heavy rock, neo-psychedelic, and otherwise loud and complicated band currently operating. Their amps weren’t even that big – and they don’t bother with vocals, ‘cause you wouldn’t have been able to hear them anyway.

See, thing is, Psychic Paramount’s music doesn’t feel complex because it’s so brutish. Frizzy-haired guitarist Drew St. Ivany’s hands were a constant blur – not in the neck-choking way a thrash guitarist’s would be during a solo, but a stream of strums that bled into a wall of silver-tinted feedback – and his short, angry solos sounded like My Lai field recordings subjected to academic slice and dice. On record, these are cool noises, possibly explained away by studio fuckery. Live, it’s straight what the hell? territory. Being stuck at the back of the club meant you couldn’t see whatever array of pedals St. Ivany had brought with him, but in a way you didn’t want to know what technological alchemy he was using to make this racket. At times his snarl and spray was loud and overwhelming enough to make you forget basic life-skills, your ATM pin number, and where you parked.

The bearded rhythm section of bassist Ben Armstrong and drummer Jeff Conaway played air traffic controllers, keeping the constantly shifting – and long, and probably at least partly improvised – songs from just swirling overhead. PP is as much of a body unit as a head trip, with Conaway filling the spaces around his stadium-rock stomp with cymbal crashes, and Armstrong’s bass was felt as much as heard. Some of the music’s most exciting moments came when Armstrong would shift from a low, formless rumble to an outright, sawn-off melody cutting through the guitar spuzz. There’s a moment in “Para5” – it sounds like a tape splice on the band’s 2005 Gamelan Into the Mink Supernatural – where the band fucks with you by cutting to dead air just as it’s about to reach crescendo. Live, everything just stopped – literally just a millisecond pause for breath – before St. Ivany’s guitar roared back in on a dime and left you grinning and drenched. Memo to all other rock bands: Quit now.

After that, just about anything was gonna be a step down.

Live in Allentown, PA 4/28/2005@ Jeff the Pigeon

 

Rad Company
– cuts

The Psychic Paramount - Gamelan Into the Mink Supernatural

The Psychic Paramount make psychedelic music, so we're going to pick a psychedelic drug that most closely resembles their style to make this review more clear. This is not your mom's shrooms. This isn't the music you would hear in your head if you were tripping the day away at your local park, watching the blueprints of the universe being refracted through the public fountain while blowing on a dandelion to watch the seeds of life you've just released into the breeze and on their way to the horizon of the future. Uh-uh. This is that nasty, thick-ass white blotter stuff that is laced with speed you bought off that dirty mechanic that lives on a houseboat. Not only that, you've regrettably taken five tabs too many because you wanted to make sure it would work. And now your in the back seat of your friend's older brother's Camaro on the way to some bonfire party out in the woods, hanging on to the "Oh Shit!" handle above your head, watching the burning witches racing beside you. And for once in your life you just want to send one word to God: "uncle".

O.K. Maybe it's not as intense as that flashback. But The Psychic Paramount are a marathon of mind-melting musical anxiety. An instrumental three piece comprised of rock essentials, they form one hell of maelstrom of free-acid-rock jamming that hardly ever loses it's wind. Like hard acid, they create a storm that takes control of all senses and then pushes the listener into new, unexpected sensations. The downside is that sometimes they hold their grip for too long, draining nerves until they are completely used up and desensitized, like the point in a trip where your brain kicks off and you just stare at the cracks in the wall.

"Megatherion" opens the salvo with a stream of backwards distortion, pushing the recording forever into-the-red. The drum and bass lock up on the next track ("Para5") and box each other around a tight and dirty loop, creating a canvas for the guitar player to sling his fretboard sweat and blood onto. The guitar player (Drew St. Ivany) is fucking W!CK!D. There are about a thousand tiny ideas for new songs packed into each one of his guitargasms. This is the post-rock you've always thought might have been out there, but none of your friends had turned you onto it yet. It doesn't daydream for half the song or meander through an ambiguous intro like it's many cousins. These drugs kick in immediately.

The Psychic Paramount also waste no time explaining themselves and tip their cards of influence right in the title (Gamelan Into the Mink Supernatural). Along with Xiu Xiu, they are hopefully a new crop of indie rock musicians tapping the vein of gamelan music for some much needed fresh influence. The magnum opus on this album, "Echoh Air" fades up through the floor with a sinister revolving bass line, while the drummer counter measures cymbal smashes that create the state of beautiful confusion that is gamelan. Yet the most important aspect of gamelan music has been overlooked by these guys. Dynamics. Yeah, sure, there's a few quick explosions from complete silence, but gamelan is more about tension and sudden unexpected releases. These two groups may be the first to shoot up the gamelan vibe into the mainline of indie rock and we can only hope that future groups take note. While the replay value of this album deteriorates quickly, it is a must hear due to its ambitiousness.

Also, like the Oxes, this is indie dude rock. I'm thinking of inventing a new musical ratings scale, sort of like a Ph meter, that shows a recording's sexual preference. This is at +4. That's pretty acidic for female ears.

http://radcompany.net/Storys/CutsStorys/PsychicParamount/PsychicParamount.html
 

TPP - London, UK - photo by Adrian Nettleship

 

Washington City Paper
May 27, 2005


Acid Reign
by Brent Burton
 

Were it not for the din of disco-punk, the underground’s other retro fixation du jour might be more noticeable. Granted, new-millennium psychedelic rock is a comparatively low-stakes aesthetic. But for every LCD Soundsystem, Le Tigre, or Out Hud, there are just as many bunches of hipsters who want nothing more than to envelop you in a purple haze or blind you with the sunshine of their love. Among the new breed are critic-feted folk-poppers (Joanna Newsom, Animal Collective, and Dungen), groundling-adored amp abusers (Comets on Fire, Sunn 0))), and D.C.’s own Dead Meadow), and even a Santana-loving commercial success (the Mars Volta, of course).

You might chalk this up to our rather late-’60s-ish political climate. After all, it’s easy enough to imagine that sanguinary Republican administrations make bohemians see paisley. Yet none of the aforementioned acts are particularly protest-minded—that is, if they sing at all. For many, I suspect, it’s a curiosity about indistinctly mapped musical margins, not anger toward Dubya, that’s fueling the fixation. The less generous would call it obscurantism; others would argue that passage of time has lessened the era’s baggage. Either option would go a long way toward explaining the popularity of the druggy Nixon-era reissues currently being pimped by every cool record store from San Francisco’s Aquarius to New York’s Other Music.

It’s probably safe to bet an original copy of The Piper at the Gates of Dawn that at least one of the guys from New York power trio the Psychic Paramount has frequented the latter’s Psychedelia section. More likely than not, it’s frontdude Drew St. Ivany, a long-haired, needles-in-the-red guitarist who is obviously well acquainted with the heftier elements of late-’60s and early-’70s acid rock. On his band’s improv-heavy, all-instrumental debut, Gamelan Into the Mink Supernatural, the fuzzed-up six-stringer leans hard on his whammy bar (“Para5”), jams along with his own echo (the title track), and—duh—conjures that extra-wasted vibe by recording some stuff backward (“Megatherion”).

TPP - London, UK - photo by Adrian Nettleship

 

But like the most imaginative of their peers, the Paramounters are no mere revivalists. St. Ivany’s frequently herky-jerky riffing also betrays a youth spent scouring the SST Records catalog or some similar claim to punk geekdom. And it would be downright neglectful not to mention some of his tighter, more machinelike lines, most likely left over from the guitarist’s late-’90s tenure with Can- and Neu!-influenced math-rock outfit Laddio Bolocko. On the six-minute “Echoh Air,” for example, he’s sometimes so precisely repetitive that his parts sound like tape loops—especially against the unhinged-seeming rumble and flail his bandmates whip up as accompaniment.

In this, the rest of the group is utterly single-minded. Throughout Gamelan, bassist Ben Armstrong, another Laddio Bolocko alumnus, channels the spirit of Jesus Lizard–Êstyle postpunk, chugging out surly, blues-free riffage apparently ad infinitum. And drummer Jeff Conaway bashes at his kit as if he knows not the meaning of the word “restraint”—or “genre,” for that matter, given his tendency to let rocky passages blur into jazzy ones and vice versa. More than anything, though, the Psychic Paramount’s rhythm section just sounds angry. Definitely not the kind of guys who would dig what Mom and Dad dug. “Incense and Peppermints”? Forget it. Some unknown “proto-metal” reissue on the Aquarius-approved Akarma label? Bingo.

Still, Gamelan comes across less like a collection of rock numbers than a free-jazz-style blowing session—an impression enhanced by the fact that there’s no singer and no singing. Mind you, the record is about as likely to be mistaken for New Thing as it is for real Indonesian gamelan: Sonicswise, it has more in common with ’60s alt-rock than with either of those styles. But the album is nonetheless informed by nonrock notions of tension-building and melody-carrying—an approach that’s been favored by forward-thinking heads for decades. In this sense, St. Ivany & Co. are traditionalists in the very best sense: In applying the recombinant spirit of the past to the sounds of the present, they’ve made a record that couldn’t have been released at any time other than right now.

...A friend who works as a soundman with some of the biggest luminaries of disco-punk recently tried to convince me that everything has been done before—that this is the dawn of a new era of “postoriginality.” He’s wrong, of course: Rock is healthy enough to glance over its shoulder without spewing out simulacra. “House of Sun” ain’t gonna to convince anyone of that. But “Seadrum,” just like the entirety of the Psychic Paramount’s debut, would make for a mighty fine case in point.CP
 

TPP - London, UK - photo by Adrian Nettleship

 
 

INTERZONA  
Napoli, Italy 

La cult band americana di scena al Sanakura (9 dicembre) nell’ambito della rassegna ::: CIRCUITI 2002 ::: di supporto ai Dat Politics. Il commento di Enzo Salegna ed Emanuele Olibano. Foto di Lucio Carbonelli.

- The Psychic Paramount e Dat Politics: lo stato sublime dell’arte. (Enzo Salegna:)

Da restare atterriti! Siamo al CBGB, al Knitting Factory, al Sanakura o altrove? A New York o Napoli? Mi sono chiesto in apertura di concerto degli Psychic Paramount. La risposta è stata Napoli ma vi assicuro che il live della band newyorkese ha saputo catapultarmi indietro nel tempo, nella capitale dell’omonimo stato americano, lasciandomi immaginare quello che forse provarono solo coloro che ebbero la fortuna di vedere, ed ascoltare innanzi tutto, per la prima volta, i mitici Suicide, ovviamente fatte le debite proporzioni ed i dovuti distinguo per la strumentazione usata. 

E come forse avrebbero fatto solo Alan Vega e Martin Rev, i due ex Laddio Boloko, Drew St.Ivany (chitarra) e Ben Armstrong (basso e chitarra), band seminale dell’underground a stelle e strisce, complice l’ex batterista giapponese degli Nmperign, Tatsuya Nakatani, hanno incendiato il piccolo locale partenopeo con una performance intensissima e senza fronzoli, folgorante, fatta di white noise, scorie industrial, decostruzionismo no wave ed al solito, blues urbano, destrutturato e maciullato, quello con il quale New York ha sempre avuto un rapporto molto viscerale (chi si ricorda dei Surgery, tanto per fare un esempio?). Si, perché sono convinto che quanto dichiarato nel 1980 da Alan Vega (“non ho mai ascoltato nulla di avanguardia e non ho mai pensato di fare musica d’avanguardia. Per me si è sempre trattato solo del blues di New York City”) potrebbe valere anche per gli Psychic Paramount, anzi sono certo che, potendo, loro confermerebbero. 

Ben Armstrong NYC | photo: Aran Tharp

 

Laddio Boloko meets Nmperign, dunque, per una proposta delirante ed avantgarde nel suo incedere free form, forte dell’attitudine dei Suicide e dell’impatto degli Swans di Filth, soluzione esplosiva a caricare la miccia della micidiale bomba d’apertura, un devastante attacco noise-core degno dei migliori Naked City di Torture Garden reso ancor più arrembante ed “accecante” dal faro bianco letteralmente sparato in faccia agli astanti, a fare terra bruciata di tutto quanto abbiamo ascoltato negli ultimi anni. Di certo, un ideale ground zero dal quale attendersi buone nuove per il futuro del rock, ennesimo grido sofferto ma liberatorio partorito dalla big apple volto a sublimare l’Arte fuori da schemi precostituiti, affrancandola dalle avvilenti gabbie del music-biz. 

Detto questo, che dire di Drew St.Ivany impegnato nello stuprare la sua chitarra, addirittura gettata con non chalance ai piedi del pubblico prima di allontanarsi momentaneamente dal palco, perso tra cavi, pedali ed elettroniche di ogni sorta ma sempre pronto a dare il via ad impennate soniche di mirabile forza e vigore? O della straordinaria potenza esibita dalla sezione ritmica che ha mostrato un batterista che dire eccezionale è poco o di Ben Armstrong, abbigliato con con lenti scure e copricapo tipo ultimo Alan Vega (una strana coincidenza?), che nel corso dello show ha anche imbracciato la chitarra prima di suonare uno dei pezzi più intensi e dilatati del concerto, risultato essere qualcosa di molto vicino allo struggente lirismo dei Godspeed You Black Emperor, prima di tornare al basso? Beh!, a mio avviso, sublimi e definitivi, non c’è che dire, ed un concerto straordinario, difficile da far rivivere attraverso le parole, costituito da una sola impietosa suite di 45’ che ha meritato il lungo applauso degli astanti, unico e giusto tributo per questi impagabili figli degeneri dell’America del capitalismo e della globalizzazione, parti involuti di quegli alienanti sobborghi metropolitani che ancora bruciano e si ribellano allo stato delle cose.

The Psychic Paramount estetica punk e indomito piglio rivoluzionario. Li attendiamo fiduciosi alla prova dell’album ma gli ingredienti per far gridare al capolavoro ci sono tutti!

In conclusione, mi preme fare un solo appunto: non è possibile che in una città come Napoli siano così poche le persone che partecipano ad appuntamenti Altri che dovrebbero essere invece di grande richiamo per chi ama l’Arte che si fa Cultura attraverso la continua ricerca, la pura immersione in una dimensione diversa che rifiuta il compromesso e che, all’insegna della più Alta libertà d’espressione, si fa fucina di idee e volano di continuo rinnovamento del pensiero. Vanno bene i Tiromancino ma chi non vuole chiudersi prospettive di crescita, che questi saltuari eventi targati Wakeupandream innegabilmente offrono, dovrebbe reagire non solo con le parole. Non è possibile che questi concerti sappiano solo coinvolgere gli ormai sempre meno estimatori di certe sonorità e non essere catalizzatori degli interessi, tanto per dire, dei tanti universitari che pur affollano il capoluogo campano.

Non è possibile che lo sforzo di questi tre giovani partenopei, e mi riferisco ai componenti di Wakeupandream, decisi a far passare per Napoli ciò che ogni altra capitale o città d’Europa sarebbe accolto o meglio accoglie con ben altro interesse e calore, debba essere frustrato da un atteggiamento paranoico e poco aperto al confronto con il nuovo e che, in buona sostanza, può solo determinare appiattimento ed inaridimento culturale. Non è possibile … lasciamo perdere!

succoacido,IT http://www.succoacido.it/uscite/numero%2014/unposto14.html

 

SUICIDE / THE PSYCHIC PARAMOUNT - Roma, Classico Village, 6/12/02

Considerati a ragione un gruppo di culto grazie a quell’album d’esordio che, a 25 anni di distanza, graffia e annichilisce ancora, i Suicide arrivano nella capitale attesi da una schiera di appassionati, memori di live set estremi che, a quanto si dice, causavano l’estromissione brutale del duo newyorchese dai locali della Big Apple. Ovviamente la serata romana è stata ben diversa, a cominciare dai gruppi di supporto: in primo luogo la grande sorpresa (almeno per me) del ritorno degli A-10, storico combo punk/r’n’r devoto al verbo detroitiano/australiano (vale a dire Radio Birdman!), che ha proposto una serie di brani nuovi, comunque fedeli al loro stile, e una bella cover dei Velvet Underground. La formazione è rimaneggiata, ma la classe si sente eccome, ragazzi miei! Il secondo gruppo è situato su tutt’altro versante, il nome non mi dice nulla: The Psychic Paramount; poi scopro che sono alcuni ex Laddio Bolocko, che ricordo essere una buona band. E infatti il suono non è dissimile: avant rock con echi crimsoniani, ardite sperimentazioni, asperità chitarristiche e qualche momento psichedelico finiscono per dividere gli astanti fra entusiasti e indispettiti. Giunge infine l’ora dei Suicide: un’ovazione continua per loro, che sorridono e scherzano e stringono mani; sono sempre dei grandi, non c’è dubbio, ma non ci si può aspettare qualcosa di stravolgente poiché anche le basi musicali e i suoni di Martin Rev sono meno "agghiaccianti" di una volta, diciamo più moderni. In ogni caso buone le versioni di Rocket USA e Cheree, altalenanti i brani dell’ultimo cd, in definitiva poche rivelazioni e la certezza di aver visto un duo che invecchia con dignità.

Italo Rizzo

 

 

 

 

宇宙是一团高分贝迷幻

作者: 胡凌云


先说说The Psychic Paramount。 他们在那天晚上十点摸上了台,突然发出了一声巨响,令我们永远记住了这个名字。

此前半小时,我还在家中,只是顺手点开了当地演出网站上的一首试听曲目,然后就决定立刻提前出门去研究这支为Acid Mothers Temple暖场的乐队。虽然及时赶到了现场,但我最终还是没来得及准备好——吉他、贝司和鼓手懒懒散散地从三个方向走上台,很象是要调音,舞台周围也没有人,那天晚上本来就不多的观众都在酒吧台附近聊天。然后,轰的一声,四座皆惊。

也许有很多人和我一样, 顺其自然地把这支闻所未闻的乐队想象成和Acid Mothers Temple一样的大麻型迷幻乐队。但它是一支安非他命型实验乐队。它的出现,完满了一个东西方相会的夜晚——这应该是后话。

纽约三人乐队The Psychic Paramount两年前就在欧洲巡演(根据官方网站,那是乐队组建不到一周后发生的事件),发行现场专辑,摄制短片,如今,他们依然没有唱片公司和经纪人,正式发行的作品都刻在Ritek牌CD-R上,而且,根据乐队网站介绍,已经全部脱销。

还好,我在现场买到了乐队的Origins and Primitives Vol.1。这张专辑给人的第一印象,是温和的、纯粹的实验性。比如,第一首作品的名字叫Solo Electric Guitar with pre-recorded drums。这种命名方式,完全可以令你的脑海中闪过一串二十世纪先锋作曲家的大名。这首作品中预先录制的鼓声如同在空旷的火车车厢里听穿过隧道的回响,而音高连续变化的吉他则绵延着模拟电子乐器的旋律。

乐队显然是依赖于传统电声乐器的——这也是当晚两支乐队关键的共同点。Echoh Air 稳定的节奏,跳动的细密音符, 全是由多轨的电吉他叠加而成的,在高潮的时候听起来宛若老式风琴的即兴华彩。长达十多分钟的Microphone 2,也是依靠单电吉他的混响和环绕效果,营造出玲珑的、疾速的空间感。它们不是噪音,也并非舞曲,仅仅用声音的堆叠,就创造了属于流水线和高速路时代的迷幻。

在现场,这类作品往往在速度和力度上极尽狂暴。吉他/贝司/鼓威风凛凛、颠覆性十足的合奏,让我想起当年在北京见识的Sabot。不过,这支乐队的妙处是,有时你甚至不能确定乐队的演奏和他们的声音有什么关系。比如,专辑中暴戾的The Eyeglass/Sex Operation听起来象一支全力出击的乐队, 但音响洪水中的三件乐器是鼓,风琴和磁带机。在现场, 鼓手使用了装有放大器的接触式麦克风,另外两个阴谋家使用了loop effects 踏板,所以,即便没有磁带机, 但我却似乎听到了它造出的幻象,躲在一阵阵啸叫的声浪后面,是将要复活的机器。当时没来得及录音,但如今听他们2002年的欧洲现场专辑,还是被这种声响窒息。这支乐队在现场的能量是令人敬畏的,而且彻底离经叛道——和他们相比,后面上场的日本人简直就是在复古。
 

 

在现场,我还买了Sabers的唯一专辑Specter。这是鼓手Jeff Conway和Charlie Hines的乐队。录音师Martin Bisi也来自纽约,而且合作者名单有诸多名人:Sonic Youth, John Zorn,Keiji Haino,Swans, Bill Laswell, Golden Palominos,Fred Frith和Brian Eno等人。这是一张操作取代了演奏的实验CD。他们显然是在探索乐器、音箱和麦克风的开放式回路——一个天然而莫测的效果器。该乐队显然是在撰写一本声学应用的手册。没有吓人的引子,甚至没有节奏,在缓慢变化中令人迷醉或是颤栗。这就是传说中的Drone?

和这些来历不明的先锋相比,Acid Mothers Temple显然更容易了解。比如,研究一下他们目前签约的Alien8,就算是很好的入门。这家加拿大厂牌拥有安静的Shalabi Effect, Set Fire To Flames, 和Molasses(成员来自Shalabi Effect和在我国已经相当著名的Godspeed You! Black Emperor), 这些西方乐队多少带有迷幻色彩,直接或间接地采用了东方的声音和意识。俨然是一个音乐群落。另一方面,该厂牌签下了Merzbow 和前两年在我国曾经火爆一时的Keiji Haino等日本噪音大拿, 在东方人看来,这些疯子带有西方的颠覆性,在西方人看来,他们体现了噪音的根源性。旗下其它人员,诸如屡次参加Sonar的中年作曲家Francisco Lopez ,和五月份曾经在此为Trans Am暖场的疯癫小子Les Georges Leningrad,把它的经营范围向实验和朋克继续延伸。

Acid Mothers Temple在这样一个厂牌落户是最合适的了。这支乐队的全名是Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O.。U.F.O乃是Underground Freak Out的趣味缩写,但如果你已经将其理解为那种天外来客,乐队的灵魂吉他手Kawabata Makoto想必也不会反对——因为他声称自己小时候就听见过UFO发出的声音, “然后在听见塔布拉演奏之后立刻就认出了这种声音。”

AMT的现场便是由一阵环绕来自宇宙的飘忽合成器之声揭开序幕的。这种声音几乎是一个半小时现场中的标志性声音,而且也经常在AMT唱片中浮现。Kawabata从来不认为自己在演奏乐器,他认为我们被宇宙中无所不在永不止歇的音响环绕,他只是一架接收机,收到这些信号,然后转化为大家可以听见的声音。

这一点,在AMT的上一张专辑Electric Heavyland中得到了体现。这个名字自然让人想到了Jimi Hendrix,而内容,从迷幻的意境,到对宇宙的感知,都发展了那位神仙的思路。自然,这宇宙必然充满了吉他,然而却没有大师——吉他虽然用尽了回授,延时,摇把等等十八般武艺,但纯粹是功能性的,只为了叠加出致密的白噪音漩涡。那些水波和抛物线式的电子音响提醒我们:女士和先生们,我们正漂浮在太空中;而这些无法无天的吉他表明:我们正在被吸进一个黑洞。在鬼魅般的人声飘散后,专辑几乎是在一场流星雨式的纷繁景色中收场。这是AMT最暴躁的作品, 但也是Kawabata听到的宇宙——他显然把宇宙深处的混沌理解为它的和谐。他信仰宇宙的基本规律而不是佛教,于是就可以把极乐世界搞得喧闹无比。

 

Electric Heavyland忘记调性和结构,拒绝旋律和歌词,但请不要把它归入纯噪音范畴——之所以期待AMT的现场,原因在于它的精华是演奏,这种音乐很大程度上是由演奏者的想象力和体能决定的,而不是其他自动化方式,更不是随机的。The Psychic Paramount使用了磁带录音机,便是对体能/乐器的极限和时基概念的突破,是实验性的典型象征。和学生模样的他们相比,AMT的概念老得象The Grateful Dead,而且确实头发胡子一大把。

Electric Heavyland也令我想起自己听见过的AMT最早的作品之一,New Geocentric World Of Acid Mothers Temple。那首“Psycho Buddah”中扫荡一切的飓风长达二十一分钟堪称经典。不落俗套之处在于,它高速旋转中的每一个瞬间,还是浮现着很多微妙的细节。这类作品,完全就是濒死体验的失真版配乐,身体受到抑制,但想象力却八方飞散。

当然,AMT有他们的另一面。现场的第二首作品便充满了苍劲的迷幻吉他和不断反复的主旋律,更有颤抖的声音和古老的吟唱。这算得上是他们的又一种标志性声音了。在现场,这类作品显然占据了主流。毕竟,这次巡演是为乐队的新专辑作宣传。

这张不久前发行的Mantra of Love和Electric Heavyland有天壤之别。如其名,这是一个抒情的世界。从技术上说,它是一个调性的世界,拥有反复演绎的主题,拥有间奏,拥有能够在自由演化中表现峰回路转的速度和强度,拥有狂暴和清澈。专辑照例由两首长达二十多分钟的作品组成,“La Le Lo"是欧洲近地中海区域的民歌(相关的历史照片也成了专辑的封面),洋溢着古老的民谣气质;第二首“L’ambition dans le miroir”中,流星的电子音效,Cotton Casino的女声,都像是在遥远的背景里,穿梭着星际的缠绵讯息。

在现场,乐队演绎了另一首民谣化的旧作La Novia。这首作品的录音室版本长达40分钟,是一首拥有各种变化但几乎没有失真吉他的罕见作品,而且,民谣化的歌唱显然加上了效果尾音。现场他们由清唱和合唱开始,把它压缩到了十分钟以内。显然,和他们日本现场录音的41分钟版比较,即便是这类歌唱式作品,即兴仍然可以令其每次都面目全非。

现场的结尾是一首三十分钟的作品。它虽然长,听起来象是很常规的英式摇滚作品,几个简单的和弦在宇宙声的陪伴下以非常缓慢的加速度演进。在一阵湍流之后几乎是重新演奏了一遍,但加入了人声和不断solo的吉他——其实他们并没有主音的定义。他们信仰阻挡一切的声墙,能逃脱的,只有那些奇幻眩目的合成声音。至于主题,结尾的这一曲显然是一个从有序到无序之间不断循环的概念。

AMT的很多手法其实并不新鲜,他们只是拾起了一些不那么摇滚的东西。Kawabata早期接触音乐时,受到的是古典音乐和印度音乐的影响,他对The Beatles并不感冒, 真正使他震惊的是具象音乐和斯托克豪森。而令他着迷的是电子音乐。

在最初组队的时候,Kawabata的梦想是一支“深紫”式硬摇滚乐队和一支斯托克豪森式电子乐队的组合体。现在看来,他并没有实现这个梦想。你可以说他们是摇滚的,因为他们也甩着拖把式头发, 自我陶醉的快感取代了冒险的紧张和新奇。你可以说他们是实验的,因为他们做出来的东西不是可以翻唱的。他们与摇滚和实验好像都有距离,但显然不在两者之间的某一点。好象是到了天上,因为他们喜欢宇宙;也可能到了地下,因为他们体现着深厚的根源性。

不过,Kawabata倒是成功地活在了六七十年代,因为他的乐队和八十年代以后的事物都没有什么关系。而The Psychic Paramount,则进一步指出了电声和电子的区别。两支属于二十一世纪的乐队,从东方和西方走来,把便宜的合成器和效果器变成了洪水猛兽,横行在这个笔记本电脑缺席的夜晚。

 

ORIGINS AND PRIMITIVES

Review in SPIN magazine – February 2007

This prog-core power trio makes the Mars Volta sound like Phil Collins-era Genesis, such is the Paramount’s pounding heft, guitar histrionics, and complicated menace. (Check out 2005’s amazing Gamelan Into the Mink Supernatural for the full story.) This double CD is essentially an archive of Paramount guitarist Drew St. Ivany’s ovoid guitar experiments from before the band existed. Save for a few grimy demos with drums, disc one echoes and reverbs like Philip Glass ringtones. Disc two’s electro-acoustic shimmer is chill-out music for basement show geeks. - JOE GROSS


Skyscraper magazine

THE PSYCHIC PARAMOUNT
Origins and Primitives Vol. 1+2 CD – No Quarter

The Psychic Paramount goes after only the biggest fish. With their debut, Gamelan Into the Mink Supernatural, they made a monster, a sprawling, omnivorous, instrumental force that blasted through decades of rust in search of something raw and primeval. Though not a true follow-up, Origins chases the same targets but with different weapons. Composed of material recorded prior to Gamelan, these two discs show a band bent on exploring the barest structure of their maximalist architecture, using only a guitar, various loops, and, on one track, organ. The opening jam, “Solo Electric Guitar with Pre-Recorded Drums,” rides a rolling, serrated drone that expertly evokes the free-form collaborations of Fripp and Eno. Other tracks employ in turn brittle, repetitive riffs, clamorous static and cyclic, hypnotic noodling with the same sure command, calling to mind most of the heavy hitters of minimalist, conceptual or experimental music: Faust, This Heat, Terry Riley, and a few others. But this isn’t mimicry: The Psychic Paramount understand the shamanistic power of sound, the ways forceful music (or musical force) can tap into oceanic energies that register directly with the crocodile mind. Stripping things down has only made the power of the edifice more apparent, like exposed beams on modernist buildings. This band knows it’s onto something massive; more importantly, it knows that everything else is unimportant. (Reed Jackson)

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