Down from the North-east, Parastatic played at The Sebright Arms, an East London venue which is one of my top ‘most welcoming’ pubs in London. Laid back, helpful staff unfazed by post-weekend ditheriness about what to drink.. The reason for the (yet another) jaunt eastwards is to see Tyneside outfit Parastatic, a band who came to my attention via Radio 6 Music, when I just happened to catch the tail-end of a track which delivered an utterly euphoric guitar riff. I felt a ‘here’s a new addiction’ moment coming on. What is this, who are they, and when are they playing??
That track I later discovered to be called St Mary, from the band’s latest album out March 2015, Recall Fade Return. The Sebright Arms’ basement venue has a healthy turnout for the bands tongiht. There’s something about electronic music played live that tends to make its musicians create a wall between the audience and themselves. Fortunately Parastatic don’t fall into that camp, guitarists Neil Caffery and Jon Garrard look outward from the stage, creating a connection between them and us
The band members have good synergy too, both guitarists on either side of drummer Rachel Casey, who makes the most of the limited range of expression that being behind a drum kit will allow with some dramatic flourishes. It’s also good to see a band smiling and looking like they are enjoying themselves up there on stage.
The band’s sound is that of a dense synth sludge of noise, from which rises a driving beat on which layers dance and shimmer. Vocals are woven into the fabric of the music, allowing the instrumentation to speak for itself. Parastatic know how to create vast soundscapes, wide open spaces which can in a flash screw you up into a ball of tension, before unravelling you again. Numbers which take your heartbeat and crank it up a few notches. I Am the One and the wonderful St Mary make it onto the set list, with Breaking me Down to finish.
I’ve listened to Parastatic’s first album from 2012, Lost Highway, and it feels more vocally driven, with a distinct prog element – Breaking me Down reminds me of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, only without veering into proggy self indulgence. (Curiously, listening to Angel Sigh, the intro has the same feel as Under the Pressure on The War on Drugs’ more recent 2014 Lost in the Dream). New album Recall Fade Return is a far more cohesive and confident body of work and carries forward that distinctly Krautrock influence – Neu!’s Hallogallo drives tracks like St Mary.
A later number, T.R.E.M. is a nervy, restless track which could have a scary tale to tell, laden as it is with echoey synth which builds and gathers pace. All that remains to be said is… here’s an album which deserves to be heard (and danced to), so here’s hoping that Parastatic get the airplay and live performances they deserve. Our ears and souls will be all the better for it.
All photography: Daniela Fleckenstein; www.fleckensteinphotography.com Goodsoul Promotions; firstname.lastname@example.org
THE SMALL PRINT WHO: In Violet, Parastatic, Kontakte WHEN: March 30, 2015 WHERE: The Sebright Arms, London TICKETS: £7
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