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Pyramids

Pyramids

(Hydrahead; US: 22 Apr 2008; UK: 28 Apr 2008)

Pyramids’ very impressive debut treads the fine line between otherworldly beauty and sheer unadulterated noise, its loveliest soundscapes blotted by feedback and distortion, its most aggressively ugly rampages pierced by unexpected intervals of tranquility. “Sleds”, for instance, starts the album with a de-tuned howl of guitar, then introduces unearthly, angelic singing, framed by big wavering blots of sustained tones, an eerie sonic aurora borealis glowing in the sky. This opening salvo, one of the album’s strongest cuts, will remind you of Jesu, but there are other tracks that sound far more like Radiohead. “End Result” in particular, is harsher and more distorted, the guitar sounding much more like guitar this time, and the pounding, insistent drums, galloping alongside a panting, breathing vocal sound. There is a sense of rush, of frenzy, of fleeing, that is quite nightmarish, but also epic and grand. “Ghosts”, later on, shares this propulsive mood, but only “Hellmonk” pushes it over the hallucinatory, bad-tripped top, its horror film washes of abstract vocals surging over Doppler whining, head-pounding sheets of feedback. A bonus disc of remixes—not included with the promo—offers reworkings of these cuts by artists including Jesu, James Plotkin and Birchville Cat Motel. There is something off-putting about the production, a sort of Lucite wall of indistinctness imposed between listener and song, which makes these abstract compositions even more untouchable. Still, what you can see through the wall is alternatingly very beautiful, horrifyingly ugly and immensely promising for next time.

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