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Album Review

Recall Fade Return 104 Records

Article written by Kev W - Jun 1, 2015

It's been around 18 months since Newcastle experimentalists Parastatic released their excellent krautrock/shoegaze/electronica album 'Lost Highway', and for a band dealing in these sort of sonics that's not a bad turnover. The gap between records by like-minded souls such as, say, Spectrum is often much longer. Follow-up 'Recall Fade Return' impresses in many different ways because of this. Firstly, although the influences remain largely the same, their sound has developed to the point where the shoegaze tag is largely redundant and a more psychedelic, electronic and drone-based approach is taken; this is no facsimile of what they've done before. It would also appear that they have no concept of the term "second album syndrome", again aiming high, again hitting the mark.

Not just a title, the three words that give this record its name are also soundscapes that bookend and dissect it. 'Recall (Intro)': a possible message to listeners that the band are back? Or maybe a nod to others who've trodden similar roads before? It certainly does bring to mind analogue electronic pioneers with its pulsing intro that doesn't let up until it becomes enshrined by squall. 'Fade (Interlude)': sat right at the heart of these 10 tracks is the most ambient piece here, where ghostly voices chant beneath more antique sounds that wouldn't be out of place on a track by the aforementioned Spectrum. 'Return (Outro)': more organic, Parastatic wrap up the album with pangs of reverberating guitar and a maudlin backing, easing things out - letting you down gently. Once you hear what lies inbetween this trio of songs it all makes sense.

The looping guitars of 'Arches' could be from a mid-period Spacemen 3 album, but then the rise in tempo kicks things to a different level. At first like a more kraut-inspired New Order, but then adding more layers of guitar until a complete picture is painted. There are even points that are oddly reminiscent of Ozric Tentacles, which is not something you'd expect but it fits in just fine. There can be no denying that the excellent 'Saint Mary' takes its cue from Kraftwerk, but once more the twanging guitars bring something else to the table. It's a definite highlight and something of an epic with lead vocals making a rare appearance. If you think of Yeti Lane's superb 'Analog Wheel' album you're not far off the mark. More urgent is 'T.R.E.M' with its sharp psych licks and driving beat. It steps up the pace and is maybe as close as they come to what could be described as "rock", yet you'd need to insert a great big "experimental" in that definition beforehand. It comes to a halt with the spooky 'Fade (Interlude)', giving an extra importance to one of the three title-tracks as this breather helps cleanse the palate.

In terms of instrumentation, the second half of the album continues in much the same vein, albeit easing us in with the spaced-out 'Sorby Sunrise' which borrows heavily from early Spiritualized's glides and chimes without ever sounding like a rip-off. It's really quite beautiful. Elements of post-rock creep into the jittery 'I Am The One' with a soft and soulful female vocal ofsetting the stuttering beat; it comes surprisingly close to turning into trip-hop at times, but it works. 'Old Street' is a definite song of note, mixing every reference so far (including the Ozrics) into a comparitively short four-and-a-bit minutes that could summarise 'Recall Fade Return' in one bite-sized package. For once you can hear the shoegaze of old filter through, especially once the vocals hit. Next, Parastatic unleash the bleeps and bloops of 'Oscillations' (not a Silver Apples cover, but perhaps a hat-tip in their direction) which contains sampled speech that mingles with a motorik beat and more of those sparking guitar lines. It ushers in the closing track wonderfully.

Parastatic are without question a band that deserve more attention and plaudits than they get, but while they look to the past for ideas about how to push music forward, the mainstream just wraps itself in throwaway, three-minute pop trash, so unless we see a huge change things may stay the same way. For those of you who are seeking an album to get lost in then Parastatic have delivered what you're after. Perhaps calling 'Recall Fade Return' a masterpiece is a bit much, but it's certainly masterful.


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