Yes In My Backyard is a semiweekly column showcasing MP3s from new and emerging local talent.
Psychic Paramount loom monolithically over the doomier, shroomier ends of New York City psych, a blown-out blowout that’s oftentimes more legend than band. Emerging from the ashes of slept-on noise-rock mutants Laddio Bolocko, this trio makes a pointed, dangerous squall: the virtuosic attack of math rock, the build-and-explode of cosmic psych, the grizzled grimness of sludgo art-metal, and the endless grooves of Krautrock. The bands they remind us of — Trans Am, Wooden Shjips, Battles — don’t sound much like each other at all, and might only approximate Paramount’s sound if they played all at once. The band’s second studio album follows the silence that accompanied 2005’s Gamelan Into the Mink Supernatural; appropriately titled II, it’s a tightly wound masterwork of aggressive, effects-laden guitar fireworks and antsy drum work — easily the best local release of this young year. The album’s most epic burner, the nine-minute “DDB,” is a maddening mountain that starts with the tense, itchy feel of ’90s math, but quickly folds in on itself, turning into a ferocious feedback workout like Acid Mothers tooling the Autobahn.
So, where have you guys been for the last few years?
Drew St. Ivany, guitarist: Here in New York.
Well, what was the catalyst for recording a new record, then?
St. Ivany: We’re always inspired to make new records, but our creative process is both lazy and ambitious, so it takes a long time.
How did you approach this record differently than you did Gamelan Into The Mink Supernatural?
St. Ivany: Gamelan was all based on live jamming: taking a riff or idea and pushing it to the threshold of disintegration. We basically just went into a studio and bashed it out. On II, we were recording songs that had been growing over a longer period of time. The guitar playing for example is less about free-form soloing, and more focused on texture and motorik. The atmosphere of the new record is more mood,y and the playing is generally more spacious to accommodate layers. Though in the end I think our identity remains.
What is “DDB” about?
St. Ivany: I don’t know what it’s about. The title is meaningless — the listener can decide for himself.
What do you remember about the recording session for “DDB”?
St. Ivany: It was one of the first songs we recorded. We set up the drums and amps in one room and basically recorded it live. Our engineer explained that sometimes it’s better to separate the amps and drums into different rooms. We didn’t want to hear about that. We weren’t convinced he was right until after we started mixing.
You once said that you “would hope that the music itself would act in the same way as a drug.”
St. Ivany: I probably meant in the way music can be transporting. They both have the potential to alleviate a dull situation. Music takes more effort than drugs, but of course the two go well together. Both are addictive and can ruin your life.
One guy came to see us play numerous times in Laddio Bolocko. He suffered from extreme stomach pain and claimed that doctors weren’t doing anything for him. He used the bass frequencies for medicinal purposes and stood directly in front of the PA speakers.
When’s the last time you hurt yourself onstage?
Ben Armstrong, bassist: In the past, I would quite often roll around the stage or crash into the wall or drums to feel more in the moment, like something serious is happening. Get the battle started. Lately I have calmed down a bit, but I’m feeling the need to get a little violent again. The last close call was at a show in Paris at Le Grand Palais. We had just started our set and the bass amp I was using totally overheated and was useless. I was freaking out not knowing what to do for the next half hour, so I started climbing all over the stage and on top of my amp. I sort of tumbled off the top of my cabinet and the bass amp fell off with me and almost on top of my head. I think it freaked a lot of people out, but I didn’t even notice how close I was to serious injury.
What’s your favorite place to eat in Brooklyn?
St. Ivany: I live in the East Village and don’t really go to Brooklyn for the restaurants.
Oops, our bad. What’s your favorite place to eat in Manhattan, then?
Armstrong: Jules on St. Mark’s.
St. Ivany: Same for me. I also like Lanza’s on First Avenue or the burger joint at Le Parker Meridien.
The Psychic Paramount play Death By Audio on March 5th.
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