NPR logo First Listen: The Psychic Paramount, 'II'

First Listen: The Psychic Paramount, 'II'

The Psychic Paramount. Marylene Mey/Courtesy of No Quartet hide caption

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Marylene Mey/Courtesy of No Quartet

The Psychic Paramount.

Marylene Mey/Courtesy of No Quartet

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The mid-'00s was a boon to instrumentally driven and often heavily psychedelic rock records: Comets on Fire's Blue Cathedral, Battles' first three EPs and the ever-enduring legacy and ridiculously long discography of the Japanese psych heroes in Acid Mothers Temple, to name just a few. But one record that often went unnoticed but remains clutched in the hands and ears of longhaired Deadheads (admitted Deadhead-ism TBD) is The Psychic Paramount's Gamelan Into the Mink Supernatural. The album is an amalgamation of all the bands above, but not really. While plenty heavy and technically adept at its instruments, the instrumental trio went about the build and pay-off like a three-headed shaman. Why we've had to wait six years for a follow-up is another story, but the long wait is worth it for the simply named II, a cannonball of a record shot off a cliff in high-def.

The key to The Psychic Paramount is rhythm. It's easy to invoke Can and Faust if any band has that essential kraut-rock beat, which is certainly here, but Jeff Conaway (no relation to the troubled actor of the same name) is so loose on the jam and so fierce on the fills that he's like a jazzier John Bonham. In fact, that's what separated The Psychic Paramount then, as it does now: a collective looseness that suddenly zeroes in like a machine gun on its target. For two and a half minutes, "DDB" (according to the band, the up-capped song titles have no meaning, if you're curious) floats along like a cosmic Rhys Chatham guitar exercise — a drone-like bed with subtle, bluesy leads — but takes a sudden turn into acrobatic noise that threatens a spectacular crash. But like the rest of II, the trio always finds its way back to the essential jam, its quick-cut twists and turns like a Bourne Supremacy for the senses.

II will stream here in its entirety until its release on Feb. 22. Please leave your thoughts on the album in the comments section below.