Thursday, 21 March 2013

Purling Hiss - Water on Mars


Purling Hiss’ 2011 EP Lounge Lizards was a low-fi noise: distorted guitar and effects promising something psychedelic, but the vocal was completely lost in the mix on all the tracks, and there was little in the actual songwriting to make it anything other than a mess, as intentionally anarchic as that might have been. Current release Water on Mars begins with a scorching Nirvana-esque number Lolita, the sound-quality itself lightyears ahead of that earlier rough template. The guitar fuzz and other effects drive this superb grungepsyche into a wonderful expectant territory for aural listening. It then descends – perhaps an overstatement, but nonetheless a disappointment – into a trio of quite ordinary and indierock numbers. Surprised? It is badshock compared with the goodshock of that opening thrust. There’s plenty of fuzz and wah-wah and thunder, as in third Rat Race, but the Velvet Underground dirge of the songs doesn’t ride with spurs the guitar tsunami generated. Fifth She Calms Me Down has a Syd Barrett acoustic sound that is appealing coming out of this low, until sixth Face Down reboots with a pounding punk number, and we’re back on track, quick wild guitar riffs regenerating my interest. Water on Mars is five fine minutes of guitar squeal above a very simplistic drum beat, but then sees out its last two minutes with that rather bland talking vocal that doesn’t appeal to me. Closer Mary Bumble Bee is a little Countrified – just a little – but is primarily again rather simplistic in its ‘melody’: pleasing enough, but I’m not compelled to listen again. But I will be listening to Lolita again and again and again!

NB – Just found this video recounting the recording of Lolita nearly a year ago and over a two day period [a Shaking Through challenge]: this is a musical technician’s nerd litany of kit and gear used in the recording process, the technical terminology truly titillating, if you’re into that sort of thing I would guess.... Here

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