PALMS

Entropy is the tendency of all matter to move from a state of order to disorder; the Big Bang scattered stars across the universe, friction turns to flame, ice dissolves into water. But sometimes entropy works in reverse, where destruction brings new beginnings. The Los Angeles heavy, stargazing rock outfit Palms was forged out of an explosive collision too, as Deftones vocalist Chino Moreno joined forces with critically-lauded post-metal group ISIS, venturing into bold sonic territory that careens from kinetic churning guitars to quiet, atmospheric moments mining rich emotional environments.

Palms’ self-titled Ipecac Records debut is wrought with dark anthems and intense textures, shoring cinematic, introspective interludes with tidal waves of distortion. From the ashes of ISIS, the band’s skeleton crew Bryant Clifford Meyer (guitars, keyboards), Jeff Caxide (bass, keyboards), Aaron Harris (drums, electronics), were faced with a decision: turn away from music or begin to build again. “After a little time Jeff, Cliff, and I decided that it was insane that we all still lived here in Los Angeles and weren’t playing together,” Harris says. “It just sort of happened naturally, probably because we have been playing together for so long, and things started to come together. But we didn’t want to be instrumental: We wanted vocals. We just weren’t exactly sure who that would be at first.”

Topping their shortlist of singers was Chino Moreno, whose vocal complexity interfaced seamlessly with the multi-faceted vision of Palms. Harris, who also recorded and engineered the album, had heard that Moreno was an avid follower of ISIS and approached the singer with the new project. “I love the dynamic range that Chino is capable of,” Harris says, “He can go from light and airy to sounding like he’s got acid in his throat. His lyrics grab you and make you want to know more. I love that.” Moreno immediately accepted. “A chance to work with the guys from ISIS sounded like a lot of fun,” Moreno says, “I’ve always been into the atmospheric sounds they had created with that project and felt my sense of melody would meld well with theirs.”

Moreno’s dynamism balanced the tectonic shifts in Palms instrumentation, as he howls over Meyer’s searing guitar that ignites a conflagration when mixed with of propulsive rhythms by Caxide and Harris on the climax of “Shortwave Radio.” While creating the genre-obliterating album, Caxide says that their cumulative experience helped evolve their creative process. “We communicate much better than we did in ISIS,” he says, “No one is afraid to speak up if they don’t like something and our roles are not confined only to the instruments we play.” Culled from “subconscious inspiration” as Meyer says of his intricately crafted keys and guitars, these sonic textures accumulate like sediments, providing dense layers that set the foundation for Moreno’s skyward-arcing voice. Then there’s the slow-burning “Antarctic Handshake,” which pairs crystalline guitar chords echoing into space as Moreno’s voice, both distant and resounding, pensively ruminates over subtle, sweeping synths: “It’s time to let go.” It’s a statement, a question, or, perhaps, an invitation; these cryptic lyrics acting as an empty vessel for the listeners to ascribe meaning, or maybe a mirror reflecting back secrets dredged from deep within. “I’ve never been one to talk about my lyrics, never have been,” Moreno says about the words he channels into song. “Musically I don’t approach any project differently from one another, meaning I don’t have preconceived ideas on how things should sound beforehand. It’s really just hearing the music and being inspired then reacting to it.”

But the emotional affect of Palms’ album is distinct: it moves and is moving; a perpetually forward-lunging exploration of moments both epic and intimate as all-enveloping loudness bleeds into piercing near-silence. It’s an evocative aesthetic that could score the soundtrack to dystopian films, or scorched-earth world of post-Apocalyptic novels, that resilient spring that follows a Nuclear Winter. These are songs with a sense of urgency, the inertia of breaking apart, and the energy of building it all again.

Crypts are Steve Snere, Bryce Brown and Nick Bartoletti

The long, slow demise of rock music has endured endless death throes, but the self-titled debut album by Crypts seems to clearly seal its fate while heralding the arrival of something far more vibrant and downright dangerous. The Seattle based dark electronic trio blends thick, hazy drone and synth noise with chopped-up hip hop rhythms, forsaking guitars in favor of more unique and sinister sounds.

Vocalist Steve Snere, former frontman of chaotic punk revisionists These Arms Are Snakes, brings a snarling urgency to the songs, while programmer Bryce Brown blasts out an aural assault of horror show noise, subsonic bass and skittering rhythms. Meanwhile, visual artist Nick Bartoletti creates a total environment of light and video projections for the band's live experience as well as its decidedly nihilistic aesthetic. It's an all-out attack on the senses that comes across as fresh and invigorating as the early days of punk.

"I needed a change of pace, to take myself out of the guitar-based rock world," says vocalist Steve Snere. "And the three of us wanted to experiment to find a sound that we wanted to hear." The result is the intense, occasionally bleak, yet endlessly enthralling debut album. Comparisons range from Wolf Eyes meets Christian Death to Skinny Puppy playing Dizzee Rascal. But these touch points seem to only scratch the surface of the snarling beast within Crypts.

The album was engineered with Erik Blood (Shabazz Palaces), building upon basics recorded by Brown on Pro-Tools to which the band added live instruments. Most of the sounds were generated on home-built and modified equipment. Live, the band uses a homemade sound-reactive video device for its startling visuals. "We play everything live, there's no loops," Brown explains. " It's not a lot of button-pushing. Nick runs visuals live, while also playing synths. It's more like a rock band in a live setting."

Crypts opens with the fittingly titled "Completely Fucked", awash with slithering John Carpenter soundtrack synths oozing over galloping drum machine beats and synthetic handclaps. Nearly buried beneath the din, Snere moans and wails, building to a screaming crescendo like a maniac. And, with a choked growl, the song ends just barely over 2-minutes, launching into the hip-hop beat and almost bubbly-sounding keyboards of "Daft." Elsewhere, the trio lean into The Cure's Pornography-era gloom-pop ("Territories") and dark, anthemic hooks ("Bloods"). Throughout, it's a vastly energetic, albeit downright depraved sounding album thanks to Snere's effectively dramatic and versatile vocals and the band's innovative collision of musical aesthetics.

Crypts will be released on LP, CD and download via Sargent House on September 4, 2012.

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PALMS with Crypts

Friday, July 12 · 8:00 PM at Troubadour

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