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.)

 
 
 

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.
 


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.
 

 
 
 


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.
 

 
 


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)