Paik

Monster of the Absolute

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It's an extremely appropriate title, evocative of vast distances and looming power -- a sense of space and energy perfectly appropriate to a band like Paik to begin with, but especially so here. The rapturous sonic violence that defines the band at its best is fully in place throughout the shorter but not-a-note-wasted Monster of the Absolute, and if no record can capture the sheer intensity of their live shows, this is one heck of a great souvenir regardless. Bookended by an "Intro" and "Outro" that appropriately sound like a rocket taking off and then continuing to head out to the stars, Monster's five core tracks range from the explosive to the hypnotically droned out -- not surprising per se, but that's no problem given the quality of the end results. If anything, the smear of sound that Paik can create is the signature throughout -- without specifically trying to sound like prime My Bloody Valentine, say, a song like "Phantoms" or the more gently ambling (at least initially) "October" relies on murky riffs and similar effects to create a charged, exultant sound, a parallel rather than a tame copycatting. The instrumental focus of the band provides a further distinction -- a song like the title track is based around something to jam on and repeat rather than a verse/chorus structure, building into a majestic midsection that feels like a long, slow sunrise over distant mountains. This is where Ryan Pritts' work on drums is key, often providing a rolling punch that suggests much earlier Detroit forebears (something that his and guitarist Rob Smith's current massive fro hairstyles happily help to confirm). If there's a key point to Paik, it's a simple but astoundingly effective one, namely that a "traditional" three-piece lineup can create music that sounds otherworldly; Monster shows that they've still kept that focus in mind.

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