Monday, December 10, 2012

Catching Up, Pt. 1: The Teen Psych-Rock Contingent

“Melting In The Astral Plane”
* * * 1/2
There are two immediately striking differences between Comodo Complex’s latest single “Melting In The Astral Plane” and the material on their self-titled EP from last year.  The first is Lucas Fendert’s vocals--in the past, most vocal duties were handled by guitarist Spencer Owings, whose smooth tones could not be more different from Fendert’s raunchy, ecstatic wail.  The second is how much heavier the guitars are than on anything they’ve recorded before.  These factors indicate that the band may be delving deeper into the “heavy” strain of psychedelia and turning away from the more atmospheric sound of their previous work.  This is further evidenced by the lyrics, whose references to “astral heartbeats” and “mercury bleeding” are closer to what one might expect from a stoner-metal band like Sleep or Electric Wizard than from a more straight-up psych-rock band.  Yet the band still sounds most comfortable when they loosen their grip on their music and let it float into space, as they do during the song’s epic instrumental coda. 

* * * *

At first glance, “Monster” isn’t that different a song from the Inq’s previous single “Z?”--it’s a barrelling jam with an insistent rhythm and a mix of spidery lead guitars and fuzzier ones in the background.  Yet it’s the subtle differences that make “Monster” such a monumental improvement on its predecessor.  While the studio polish on “Z?” considerably blunted its potential sonic impact, the layers of distortion on the self-produced “Monster” behoove the song greatly.  The drums are plushy and understated while still driving the song forward, and the guitars blur together like clouds of smoke in a hotboxed room.  Above it all, frontman Dillon Lee yelps insistently through muffled distortion, functioning as both a James Brown-style bandleader and a part of the overall sonic concoction.  The overall result is a thrilling mix of the physical and the intangible, a song that swirls and drifts while maintaining momentum throughout.

* * *

On his latest single as Tailed Ghost, Inq frontman Dillon Lee creates the framework of a pop song, with an omnipresent synth melody and vaguely girl-groupish drums, and inhabits the empty spaces rather than rising above the mix as a frontman.  Though the melody becomes somewhat overpowering as Lee’s vocal presence becomes more pronounced, it soon fades out and yields to an unsettling, Xiu Xiu-like congregation of synth arpeggios.  It’s almost as if the song is malfunctioning, its pop facade disintegrating and revealing something unfamiliar and possibly malevolent.

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