Wednesday 10 October 2012

Parastatic - Lost Highway

Album review by KevW

Parastatic seem a bit like a band out of step and out of time. With so many tapping into 70s krautrock sounds in the wake of The Horrors' success, motorik beats mixed with shoegaze and electronics have come to the forefront of the alternative scene, but this Newcastle trio don't quite feel a part of that revival. They somehow feel like outsiders and it's difficult to pinpoint exactly why. This isn't a slight on their music, far from it; 'Lost Highway is a terrific album, and one that gets lost in a haze of Spacemen 3 and early Spiritualized drones as well as giving a heavy nod to the Berlin set and incorporating familiar psychedelic sounds and a sizable amount of retro, analogue synths, all of which are evident on single 'Darma'.

So this album is pieced together by taking aspects of the work of many commonly cited bands, but here the pieces result in a different kind of picture. 'Like A Fraud' is as close as they come to the work of TOY and the rest of the current throwbacks, a pulsing mash of Kraftwerk's electronics, Klaus Dinger's drumming and shoegazey vocals. It's a heady, unrelenting and swirling piece of psychedelia and probably the most accessible song on the album. They quickly follow it with instrumental 'GlaxoChem', the kind of space-drone that Jason Pierce was messing around with in the early 90s, with a repetitive guitar loop that recalls 'Electric Mainline'. Soon to be joined by another insistent beat, it quickly resembles the type of sonic textures Neu! were exploring twenty years previously and it works fabulously.

Vocals return, sounding slightly robotic, on the spacious and ambient 'Where's Your Base', it's dreamy, expansive and glitters with flecks of shiny synth. 'Minimum Change, Maximum Time' could be 'GlaxoChem Part 2', taking the same blueprint but with added urgency and vitality. The druggy fog of Loop is used as inspiration for 'Lost', another track that piles on the atmospherics before breaking loose into a psych-rock jam, one that continues on the more conventional 'Breaking Me Down'. Like other contemporary bands, Parastatic have taken past sounds and cleaned them up slightly, but unlike those others, their aim isn't to dress some indie-rock songs in different clothes to differentiate them and provide more depth. Parastatic's album, although it borrows heavily, feels more like a natural continuation of the work laid down before them, and it's maybe that which makes them feel so gloriously out of kilter.

Parastatic's website

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