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TRACK LIST: 1. Constant Gardener 4:48 2. Ribes Nigrum 3:10 3. Harvest Time 7:03 4. Higher Than the Sun 9:19 5. And the Skies Will Fall 5:03 6. Love Gun 4:13 7. Skirmish 4:36 8. Weary Moon 6:25 LINE-UP: Arto Kakko – guitars, bass; keyboards; violin; wind intsruments Markku Helin – guitars, bass; theremin; synthesizers Matti Laitinen – vocals; guitars; synthesizer
Prolusion. The Finnish trio PERMANENT CLEAR LIGHT was formed back in 2009, and started making a name for themselves by contributing tracks to various vinyl single releases from the UK niche label Fruits de Mer Records from 2010 and onwards. In 2012 they released their first single through the same label. "Beyond These Things" is their full length debut album, and was released through the band's own label Havasupai Records in 2013.
Analysis. Permanent Clear Light is a band that resides pretty firmly within the part of the psychedelic rock universe that doesn't overlap extensively with progressive rock. A style of music that many who enjoy progressive rock will enjoy too, but, a few exceptions aside, lacking some of the key elements that will define them within a progressive rock context. As this is a review that is published by a website mainly catering for progressive rock, this is a point that merits mentioning. The eight compositions provided on this disc all share certain traits. First and foremost a brilliantly executed drum foundation adds energy and vitality throughout. Uncredited on the liner notes, which means that either someone in the band has done a hell of a job in programming those, or we have a shy drummer on our hands. Whatever the case may be, the rhythm department in general and the drums in particular are of good enough quality to elevate the song and album experience, cleverly maintaining tension and adding a touch of vitality where needed. Along with the bass guitar, the drums form a tight and compelling foundation throughout. Acoustic and clean, light toned guitar motifs are the mainstay feature throughout, mostly carrying the lead motif in the themes explored as far as I can tell, while occasionally having more of a subservient role. The lead vocals are fairly central too, single lead or dual vocals, some treated with subtle effects, and yes indeed we're occasionally treated to some vocal deliveries that will sound familiar to fans of bands like The Beatles. Not to the extent of being a defining feature of this band, but a detail that merits mentioning as it is kind of expected. The psychedelic aspect of this production is provided by a number of sources. There's psychedelic guitar soloing aplenty, obviously, mostly staying put within a harmony based mode of delivery. Effects treated guitar details have their expected place too, and those fond of the Mellotron have plenty of ear candy to enjoy too, even if it is a presumably digitized version rather than the original instrument supplying the textures on this occasion. Cosmic oriented effects are another expected feature, the use of brass instruments, banjo and lap steel perhaps less obvious choices in the instrument department. These elements are assembled in tight compositions, fairly often light in mood with a subtly melancholic atmosphere. Occasional darker toned guitars add tension inducing details and contrast to the proceedings, and the compositions themselves come with a slight variety from one song to the next. That a track named Harvest Time has somewhat more of a folk oriented sound to it shouldn't come as much of a surprise though, nor that Higher Than the Sun features some subtly freakout oriented cosmic inserts. As far as surprising elements go, the distinctly blues based, slide guitar driven Love Gun tops that list, and the Country and Americana driven acoustic guitar, lap steel and banjo driven Weary Moon that concludes this disc isn't that far behind. Still, this isn't an album revolving around breaking down barriers and seeking out new frontiers. It's first and foremost about honing in on familiar territories and trying to convey them in as beautiful a manner as possible, at least as I experience this production. A task that has been very well done too as far as I'm concerned.
Conclusion. These Finnish musicians have made themselves a very fine debut album with "Beyond These Things". Those fond of psychedelic rock fairly light in tone and with something of a melancholic sheen should find this one to be to their taste, with keyboards and Mellotron textures supplementing the controlled lead vocals, fairly gentle guitars and the expected array of psychedelic guitar soloing and other psychedelic effects and textures utilized quite nicely. An album with something of a timeless quality to it, of the kind that merits a description as vintage sounding but without ever sounding dated. It comes recommended to fans of psychedelic rock who finds this description intriguing.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: November 6, 2013
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