Shaking Hands with Savages

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Music Review Monday: Purge Solenoid-Transtactile

Purge Solenoid - Transtactile

Purge Solenoid – Transtactile

When I was still writing poetry (yeah, you can laugh) I had a piece entitled Synesthesia, and in it I went about describing the affliction in the best way that I could, and what I believed some of the effects that it had on perception might be. The idea that the line between your senses could blur is not only fascinating, but it also makes you reflect on how closely tied together our senses are. These things that we use every day to make sense of our world working together in unison, until something comes along and adds another layer to the orchestra of consciousness. Sorry but if I had to have any disorder, sign me up for synesthesia. Anyway, it may be a bit audacious to say this, but I think Purge Solenoid’s debut release Transtactile (Transsenual would have probably gotten them a very different audience) comes close to giving the listener the sense that they can see sounds, hear colors, and otherwise utterly demolish the borders of perception.

The band’s first release Blind Auspice fell into the good but flawed category; however, the thing that caught my attention about the group was their obvious love of a genre popularized in the early 60’s: Psychedelic Rock. The record caught me off guard, as many of the bands labeled experimental these days seem to have either forgotten or ignored this movement all together. Modern alternative bands tend to go for a more streamlined genre encompassing approach; incorporating techniques from as many different types of music as they can, whereas Purge concentrates, focuses, and refines their sound. This approach to the creative process opposes the “kitchen sink” line of thinking, and it really pays off, as there is richness and depth to the music as opposed to cursory nods to different playing styles just for the sake of it.  You can hear Purple Haze and The Dark Side of the Moon in Blind Auspicethe record dripped of atmosphere, with the biggest flaw on it being the stratospheric vocals. The dynamic of high-pitched singing and improvised musicianship works well for bands like Coheed and Cambria and the oft mentioned Mars Volta but for some reason on Purge’s first EP the singing felt a bit overdone at times. Thanks to what was surely long intermittent hours in the studio you can now forget that last line, as on Transtactile the vocals are toned down in favor of a more developed sound. At times the singing is reminiscent of the Shoegaze movement, in how many of the bands’ vocalists utilized layering effects coupled with a muffled delivery in a fashion that seemingly surrounds the listener in sound. Suffice to say in the area of singing the band has improved greatly. In fact Transtactile seems to take a slightly different approach to music altogether, especially in comparison to the last record.

While the group stays true to their roots there seems to be an overt emphasis on creating a more psychedelic sounding record. There is an odd fuzziness to each of the eleven tracks, a sense of exploration and improvisation pervades nearly every crevice of the album, utilization of obscure instruments (see*Sitar), and of course the heavy use of keyboards and synthesizers. If this album was any more Psych it would come with packets of LSD and a Grateful Dead T-Shirt. Who cares about labeling though?  What we are concerned about is whether or not the music is good, correct? Well, sorry to disappoint you all but the music isn’t good, it’s great! See what I did there that was a bait and switch, a classic journalism technique.  On a serious note this is a fantastic record and will undoubtedly end up as one my favorite releases of 2013. Each of the eleven tracks seems to be an exercise in one-upsmanship with each of the instruments threading a complex web of dueling sounds, battling for the spotlight and still managing to not overpower one another; ultimately, coming together to create something that sounds truly different. However, it is worth noting that while not the main attraction, the guitar playing on this record is phenomenal. At times throughout the record it feels like Purge borders on technical, and then they drift back into a more organic sounding play style. Not to overstate the obvious, but this is a record of polar opposites coming together, minus the expected outcome of chaos.

Transtactile is a collage of spectral soundscapes and echoes from the past; the record is a pastiche of past and present, without the pretense of homage. Purge Solenoid has done what most aspiring artists attempt to do on their first major release, and that is to craft something worth listening to. Let’s hope Purge Solenoid will continue to forge their own path in between the old and the new, crafting a sound that others may copy, but will never truly master. Don’t let the medium fool you Transtactile isn’t as much a record as it is an auditory painting, a Jackson Pollock for the ears if you will.

Overall Score: 4/5

Standout Tracks: Ethereal, Quantumplate , Fractals , Whole in Two , ….and thus further prosperous

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This entry was posted on February 27, 2013 by in Music Review and tagged , , , , , .


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