» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Satin Black
Strange Attractors Audio House

Rating: 8.5/10 ?

October 1, 2004
Ever since playing rock and roll without words became The Thing to Do during the last half of the '90s, a huge gulf has existed between the bands who do it well and the bands who just sort of do it. As time has gone by, fewer bands have managed to land on the better side of that divide. As with any vital, captivating movement in pop music, post-rock fizzled as soon as everyone discovered it, and now the genre's decaying vessel is marching, slowly but surely, toward its final resting place.

Where we once had a slew of artists cobbling together unlikely influences and creating something almost entirely new and distinct, we now have legions of bands choosing one of a series of instrumental rock tropes to play on. There are enough gimmicks, and enough bands pulling off the gimmicks well, to occasionally yield an album worth checking out - see Explosions of the Sky's appropriation of Mogwai's soft/loud dynamics on Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Live Forever and Oxes' brazen co-option of Don Cab's jazzbo cock rock bombshell. As good as these albums may be, they're not the essential listens that Young Team and American Don are, and it's doubtful that we'll ever hear another classic record that pivots on any elements of the current post-rock paradigm.

With that said, Paik have come pretty darn close to laying down five tracks of required listening on Satin Black. These Michigan stoner-rockers have been orbiting around the fringes of the psych-rock underground for almost eight years now, and they've finally managed to pull in the reigns on their smoked-out tangents and freeform noise baths to create one of the most potent instrumental rock albums in recent years. Throbbing, brooding, deteriorating, and downright destructive, Satin Black packs enough Sabbath-y thwomp to maintain the attention of more conventional rock fans, and it spews out enough molten sludge and feedback to catch more abstract-leaning ears as well.

Paik also manage to separate themselves from Bardo Pond, Neurosis, Isis, and other recent purveyors of ambient, evocative heavy metal. That's not to say that Paik have made the dent in underground music that those bands have made over the years, but it is interesting to note how they trail off from and even expand on the spacier side of neo-stoner rock. While most of Satin Black lumbers about in an ass-kicking malaise of plodding, elemental drums and fuzz-drenched classic rock licks, it ultimately does more than wreak havoc on a Biblical scale. Opener "Jayne Field," for instance, starts off predictably enough, thrashing about at 50 beats per minute like something God would have listened to when he carved out the Himalayas, but it takes a strangely uplifting turn for the better towards the end - a soaring guitar lead sweeps over the dirge-y low end and achieves the same sort of "creation is beautiful" sentiment that a thousand burst-and-bloom Godspeed impersonators strive for but never pull off convincingly.

In contrast, finale "Stellar Meltdown En El Oceano" wallows in Kevin Shields-style guitar manipulation, and somehow leaves you feeling as though what you're hearing is deliberately disobeying the rules of time and space. The song features no percussion, and has no pronounced bass hook - it's just a glorious morphine drip of effects pedals and pretty/ugly contrasts, and most importantly, it never drifts off into the realm of mere incidental music.

In between these two jaw-dropping bookends, you'll find a consistently engaging display of meaty noise acrobatics and crushing percussion. It's one of the best music-related hours you'll spend all year. So pull down the curtains, turn out the lights, lie down on a pile of pillows and let Paik's beautiful, searing din pummel you into the happiest pulp imaginable.

Reviewed by Phillip Buchan
A one-time music director at WUOG in Athens, Phillip is into college radio, literature, writing, buying records, going to shows, talking to friends, learning -- pretty much the same stuff that all of us priveledged, (pseudo?)intellectual Americans are into.

See other reviews by Phillip Buchan



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