The Psychic Paramount - Origins and Primitives vol. 1+2 (No Quarter) Keith Boyd 4.17.07
I remember reading this quote from Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones that has stuck with me for many years. He had just finished traveling to and recording in Morocco , specifically spending time with the Master Musicians of Jajouka and when asked about his experiences there he said, "What psychic weaklings has Western civilization made of us". It struck me as somehow true when I heard it and as the years have flown by I think its truth becomes more and more apparent. Whereas in other cultures there are rites and rituals meant to guide people through their experience of life, in America we just put up another strip mall, hand the kids a joystick and drown them in enough pills to keep them quiet. We're also the great moralists. We love to preach and legislate from on high about sexual preferences, the right to choose and whether or not a woman dying of cancer should be able to smoke marijuana. The more I look around these days the more I see, as Perry Farrell said, a nation of, "Farm people, book wavers, soul savers". A nation that once boasted how ruggedly individualistic is was has become a vast, plugged flock of sheep. We've suffered through some of the shittiest politics this past 20 years or so that the world has ever seen. Yet given this level of depleted spirit what are most people up in arms about this week? Not the fact that the attorney general of the United States is a shill and a liar. Not the fact that the Iraq death count continues to grow. Not even the horrid and senseless waste of life at Virginia Tech. No what we're most concerned about is the fact that Sanjaya is still on American Idol. I'm left stunned. So bereft of rituals to mark the stages of our lives, we're forced to invent them. Events like Burning Man are at least some attempt to tap into the vast ocean of spiritual/artistic energy and frenzy we are all heir to. The problem is this; Burning Man is an event. It's something artificial (however great it is) put on by people and there's an admission fee. Hey, I know that things cost money to make happen but what I'm saying is that for all of its claims to being this grand catharsis and ritual it's still just another show. The "psychic" weakness Brian Jones referred to has everything to do with this lack in our society. We stumble through our lives trying desperately to find peace or make meaning of the shards and fragments of our experience and usually come to no conclusions.
As an anecdote to aforementioned rut it's up to us to remain active in our pursuit of the freaky, the evocative, the free, the wild and the strange. The only way we can build up our psychic selves and navigate this void of our waking lives is by occasional emersion in the weird, but how? I can make a handful of suggestion to help get you started. Go dive with the turtles in Hawaii . Hell go dive with the garibaldi in La Jolla cove. Take a mammoth bike ride down the coast on a sunny day. Meditate. Ride a skateboard across the Balboa Park Bridge on Earth Day. Go hiking. Fly a damn kite. Paint. Have sex. Go on a fast. And folks I'm here to tell you, you could do a lot worse than checking out the scary/freaky/beautiful music of The Psychic Paramount.
The Psychic Paramount is a noise damaged trio from New York who simply killed speakers, ear drums and brain cells with their debut release, "Gamelan into the Mink Supernatural". That disc was a stunner. The sound was so tight, brittle and crunching you were bludgeoned into closing your eyes and nodding along in shock and awe. Now No Quarter Records has gone back and mined a trove of the bands old recordings that were previously unavailable in anticipation of their next disc due out later this spring. The contrasts in overall sound couldn't be any starker. While you still hear the freaked out psychedelic heartbeat underneath the music on "Origins and Primitives" is all together a different beast. Whereas "Gamelan" snarls and grinds like an explosion of glass and twisted metal "Origins" twists and noodles. It takes its time to seduce the listener before spiking the punch. The music isn't quiet per say. Only by comparison to the earlier release would you use that word to describe this disc. It's more that there is space in the music. On their debut, The Psychic Paramount seemed to want to fill every available second of sound with a cacophony of drum spatter and over driven distortion. While that is a remarkable and beautiful achievement this other side of the band is amazing as well. I'm figuring that a lot of people might listen to this and come away saying, "That's just noise". Well I reply with what do you mean "just noise"? Noise is a gateway to the unknown. Fill up your head with some high quality noise like this and you'll visit unknown dimensions. You'll drool and your eyes will roll back to the dark side of you skull. You'll jump up and down like a panting shaman and when you land you'll be both exhausted and elated.
Along with a handful of others ( Acid Mothers Temple , Indian Jewelry and Titan to name a few) The Psychic Paramount are leading the charge in better living through applied noise and volume. This glimpse at their early days is eye opening and enjoyable. It gives us the Yin to their Yang and is a portend of great things to come. Don't be afraid of a little stroll down the freaky-side. At the very least you won't come out being one of the "Psychic Weaklings" who crumble at every shift in the sands.