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- Through The Panama by Sightings
What I love about sightings is the completely overloaded, everything in the red, amps melting, full on bombastic racket that they create. However for this album they've utilized the production skills of Andrew W.K (currently working with Lee "Scratch" Perry!) to create a far tamer, refined almost commercial sound! What's happening? First Magik Markers make a semi-pop record and now Sightings! Well that's not strictly true. Although they've definatley been polished, there's still enough dirt to make this a great record. The band have gone on record as saying that they do not consider themselves strictly a noise act but a rock band. This is apparent as soon as the album kicks off with "A Rest". My initial response to the new sound was one of bewildermeant and a hint of disappointment. The vocals are brought to the fore with the lyrics far easier to decipher, with them not being lost in a huge ball of chaotic noise. Then the realization of just how talented a songwriter Mark Morgan actually is. The ears eventually re-adjust to the new aesthetic and The album becomes as enjoyable as any of their previous works. Instrumental piece "Cloven Hoof" begins with a brooding distorted bassline before the cochlea are pummeled into submission by some ultra fast tribal beats and sci-fi horror electronics. The intensity increases throughout. Pretty forward thinking for a "rock" band. "This Most Real Of Hells" has a shuffling typewriter amplified into space sound at its core with a colossal wall of pure shattering distortion. The vocal is a spoken word type affair where Morgan sounds like a man posessed. "Certificate Of No Effect" has the trio in fine form, screeching along to a pounding heavy groove which just becomes obscene. Relentless stuff. Then the title track is like trademark sightings, disorientating, wobbly bass, primal drums and a schizoid multi layered vocal. A tremendous piece of total cacophany which sits perfectly before "Degraded hours" which is probably as close as these guys are ever gonna get to a ballad. A dark delay drenched bassline sits as the tracks foundation while some pretty piano nestles beneath a melancholy vocal. A genuinely haunting song.
The second instrumental cut "Black Peter" ends proceedings in style with its chugging mechanical feel, infectious stomp, intricate oscillations, melodic guitar (Well almost!) and a bassline that's like ESG on Ketamine.
All boxes checked for the qualities of a great album: Shards of ear splitting feedback, alien rhythms, off kilter shambolic funk, smatterings of electronics that compliment the sound perfectly, fantastic use of stereo, unhinged aggression, quieter introspective moments and a super cool cover of Scott walker's "The Electrician". The artwork is a suitably dark bird feather and chicken wire combination.
Upon second listen I have a huge grin on my usually somber face. The genius lies in how the songs seem utterly chaotic and yet structured. "Through The Panama" is as essential as "Absolutes", "Arrived In Gold", "End Times" or "Michigan Haters". CD on Load with vinyl to follow on Thurston Moore's Ecstatic Peace label. Sightings rule!
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