reviews
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PSUDOKU

Planetarisk Sudoku

Release:  December 2014

Label:  Drid Machine Records

Avantgenre:  Zany Cartoon Math Rock Grindcore

Duration:  30 Minutes

Origin:  Norway

Official site:  http://psudoku.bandcamp.com/

Review online since:  23.12.2014 / 19:27:33

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It has been nearly four Gregorian years since PSUDOKU’s Space Grind audio wave transmission was received and transcribed for widespread earth enjoyment. Since then, grind astronomers have remained poised at their instruments, wondering whether they would again enjoy the privilege of sharing PSUDOKU’s cosmic musical communications with the masses.

But the astronomers were as much in the dark as any of us about the state of PSUDOKU. Who can say how many eons have passed, how many empires have risen and fallen, how many cultural upheavals have taken place in the mysterious being’s galaxy of residence? What technological and musical revolutions have taken place since the broadcast of the ebullient guitar ‘n’ drums bludgeoning that was Space Grind?

Apparently, more than we’ll ever know! Latest transmission Planetarisk Sudoku, arriving just in time for earth Christmas 2014, is a quantum leap. It represents a drastic change from Space Grind’s wild and crazy, jazz-influenced grindcore, to a zany, frenetic, precise, layered sound - one which still has grind at its core, but boasts more melodic focus, rhythmic interplay, tension, dynamics, and progressive songwriting than the previous artifact.

It’s immediately obvious that there is a lot going on here. Where Space Grind was built on loud but twangy guitar, fast drumming, minimalist vocals and the occasional synthesizer or keyboard, Planetarisk Sudoku features all of the above, plus prominent bass, more synthesizers, mallets, Theremin, organ and some other surprises. As a result, the mix has become balanced and clean, in order to give each instrument consideration and space. The excitement here does not necessarily come from the in-the-red noise terror and relentless speed that traditional grindcore emphasizes. Rather, the thrills on Planetarisk Sudoku come from the complex compositions and the sheer difficulty of the rhythms and dynamics involved. In this way, Planetarisk Sudoku skews even further away from traditional grindcore and closer to fast math and progressive rock than its predecessor.

"BoLTZmanN BRaiN 2099" is a good example of the new regime. Early on, the song features drastic starts and stops, time changes, blasting grind, squealing saxophone (courtesy of guest Inge Breistein), and a healthy disdain for traditional structure. By the end of the song, there will have been many parts, including an interlude featuring only bass, drums and piano, and a coda that features distant screams, and the whistlings of ghostly, glassy synthesizers. There is an unprecedented emphasis on melodicism in the late stages, with ringing guitar chords allowing the bassline to walk up and down, and creating a harmonic backdrop for the aforementioned synths.

"NeURONaMO" is the most exciting vision of the grindcore future that Planetarisk Sudoku has to offer. The song is bookended by sections featuring a positively joyous, rhythmically maddening chord progression that recalls Hella at their tech-slacker best. With kooky Theremin and chiming xylophone also at play, these sections manage to be catchy, lovely, unpredictable, chaotic, and fun all at once.

"cWaRP-4" is grindcore burlesque - the sound of a Slayer jacket sliding down tattooed, feminine shoulders, only to be caught and pulled back up every time. The songs never blasts off for a sustained period, and this is probably the point. "cWaRP-4" is both exciting and excruciating, both eminently hummable and utterly hard to follow. Nonetheless, the moments of Mike Patton-esque fast scat are an undeniable hoot, as are the loping Theremin-assisted runs that stretch like sinews between the false endings and truncated launches at the heart of the song’s essential tension.

Planetarisk Sudoku’s most winsome characteristic is its zany cartoonishness. This sort of elastic unpredictability agility does not come as easily as PSUDOKU makes it seem, and it stands as a testament to the entity’s multi-instrumental dexterity. The illogic also provides a sort of humor, doing away with the scary and depraved veneer that is common to so much of grindcore. With its perennially unpredictable rhythms somewhat inscrutable musical progressions, Planetarisk Sudoku takes some time to digest. Once one gets the general melodic outlines however, they are quite catchy and memorable, while also possessing a density and off-kilter-ness that invites repeated listens.

While the mid-length songs generally flourish, the nearly 15-minute "PsUDoPX.046245" reveals the limitations of PSUDOKU’s current alignment. Any song this long needs a support structure - a sense of narrative in musical or lyrical form, a feeling of psychedelic drift, an enveloping mood, a growing surrealism, an undeniably anthemic phrase - some it that makes the time spent worthwhile. Unfortunately the combination of rhythmic mastery, speed and power, starts and stops, and novel juxtaposition that worked well on the other numbers falls somewhat short here. Sure there are motifs and variations aplenty, as well as memorable moments - like toward the end, when an awesome California-flavored chord progression set to hilarious cowbell blastbeats is joined by a whimsical medieval keyboard - but overall, the song never really coheres into a satisfying whole.

Planetarisk Sudoku is a very rewarding record. While Space Grind was very much a brilliant document of sustained energy and instant gratification, Planetarisk Psudoku takes more patience, and offers more depth. The three mid-length songs on the album show a growth and refinement that few could have predicted. Who knew that PSUDOKU could play so many instruments, and arrange them in such pleasingly bizarre ways? The riffs are less all-out and the vocals are fewer, but there are passages of complex beauty and irreverent joy on Planetarisk Sudoku that are light-years beyond our primitive earth notions of what grindcore can and should be.

David Sano



TRACKLIST:

01 - BoLTZmanN BRaiN 2099
02 - NeURONaMO
03 - CWaRP-4
04 - PsUDoPX.046245

 

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