25 June 2013
by Ollie Connors
It’s fair to say that, from its inception, this project has been recieved to the widespread spaffing of pants. You’ve got two major and winning components here – three former members of post-metal demi-gods Isis providing the instrumental backdrop to the unmistakable vocal of Deftones‘ Chino Moreno; a match made in heaven.
If there was but one blemish in the onslaught of Isis, it was the slightly one-dimensional vocal of Aaron Turner, so marrying their noise-making prowess to the soothing tenor of Moreno will surely see the most perfect combination since the day bread met knife? This self-titled debut both meets and surpasses these expectations, but perhaps not in the way you’d expect it to.
That is to say, if you were expecting an Isis album with Chino Moreno singing over the top, this is not the record for you. Neither would it be if you required a Deftones record with the heaviness cranked up to the hilt. Instead, Palms is a vast ocean of lush soundscapes. Hallmarks of the band’s constituent parts are present – there is still evidence of the sonic intensity and huge crescendos Isis once purveyed, but the timbres and textures reflect the ethereal dream-pop stylings of Moreno’s various projects – not just Deftones, but ††† and Team Sleep as well. This is a wholly immersive experience to behold from start to finish but one for which the listener must suspend all preconceptions.
Opener ‘Future Warrior’ is something of a transitional piece; one that ushers in the melodic tones, but retains a familiar brooding undercurrent. It is clear from the outset that this is a far more emotive record than anything Isis have previously produced, even in their “golden age” (Oceanic/Panopticon), and Moreno’s vocals represent this perfectly on tracks like ‘Mission Sunset’, retaining a fragile, beauteous ambience and atmosphere throughout its lengthy course. Jeff Caxide and Bryant Clifford Meyer’s pedalboards are utilised to their full effect here – the hazy ‘Shortwave Radio’ is mesmerising, its hypnotic bassline and shimmering guitar building to a gargatuan climax in which Aaron Harris’ drums pummel the senses into submission.
Watch an “album trailer” for Palms’ self-titled album:
The absolute zenith of this record full of high points is closer ‘Antarctic Handshake’, the closest approximation to ten minutes of pure euphoria that music can create. Put it this way – if this track provided the backdrop to the montage of my life flashing before my eyes, hand me the shotgun this instant. Side-projects, let alone “supergroups” (shudder) are usually ventures fraught with bad ideas and self-indulgence, but the rewards are boundless with this wonderful record. If Palms goes any further (and I sorely hope it will), they may find it hard to shrug off the mantle of Isis mk. II, but this takes the blueprint of that band’s last two records, and pushes the boundaries of what defines “post-whatever” through some rich and cultured auditory experimentation.
Sounds Like: Relaxing until your toes prune in a digital bath (GEDDIT?!)
Standout Tracks: Future Warrior, Mission Sunset, Antarctic Handshake