Orson Fader

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It's often difficult to believe the immense sound emanating from Detroit instrumental three-piece Paik (which, according to Wikipedia, is "erroneously thought to be named after veteran Korean artist Nam June Paik, but is actually named after an old-fashioned term for a swift punch to the gut"). All at once it can be glorious minimal bombast, lush washes of sonic impressionism, and repetitive Krautrock mantra, bringing the Detroit sludge of the Stooges to its logical conclusion, from single note nod-offs to rich chordal tapestries. The fact that Rob Smith primarily plays a Fender Bass VI as the lead instrument, and drummer Ryan Pritts incorporates a timpani along with his standard kit, is largely responsible for the band's unique sound; on this, their third album, they are joined by traditional bassist Ali Clegg. Though they have a kinship with the space rock of labelmates Kinski and SubArachnoid Space, they also owe a debt to the atonal bliss-out and swaying tremoloed guitars of My Bloody Valentine and the deep, murky psych-haze of Bardo Pond. But despite the obvious influences Paik maintains a unique identity on Orson Fader, as evidenced on tracks like opener "Detroit," which sets the bar for plod-rock soundscapes. "Tall Winds" picks up the pace a bit as a piece of "low" music with pulsating dynamic swings. "Black Car" is a blurred feedback storm with swells of free jazz drumming which evolves into one giant single-chord "Om." And it continues from there on an encyclopedic journey through every aspect of the instrumental psych genre, until finally, on the title track, the band sounds monstrous, absolutely huge, as if it were an ensemble four times its size like Godspeed You Black Emperor!. And the penultimate opus "Killing Windmills" calls to mind vintage Yume Bitsu, where the guitars and basses (who's to say how many of each?) wind around each other with individual notes and chords completely obliterated in favor of broad brush strokes of sound. Orson Fader finds the band at their fiercest, and represents the absolute pinnacle of the prolific career of one of space rock's finest.

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