As rock bands go, The Psychic Paramount is a rigorously all-in proposition. No testing these waters. More than suddenly you are in, covered, drenched, exhilarated and wondering if you are in over your head, all in the same moment, all at once. But diving in headfirst (or were you thrown?) is itself only the jumping-off point. You weren’t told to take a deep breath first because it wouldn’t matter, you don’t hold your breath that long; no one does. You are going to learn to live in this atmosphere. You are going to be pressed against the sky and held there, fully conscious, locked-in and cut loose. You may never feel more free to simply like a band for what it does.
The Psychic Paramount is Ben Armstrong (bass), Jeff Conaway (drums) and Drew St. Ivany (guitar), three lead instruments individually and together. They make impact a state of being rather than a discrete event. As single-minded as the music may seem at first strike, it exists at higher elevations — of decibel, intensity, motion, color, temperature — and spills freely over the walls of genre, magma into new land. It is punk in its fury, noise in its rash extremity, and progressive in form: small-p pro-gress as a verb, progress progress progress, move move move, forward onward upward. An unceasing coiling in and exploding out. The Psychic Paramount is always moving, and you will feel the wind in the hair between your whitening knuckles.
II is the second intended-to-be album by The Psychic Paramount, weeks of heavy weather arranged into 40 minutes, recklessly focused energy, white-out conditions. The band’s first, Gamelan into the Mink Supernatural, came out five years ago, but when I say “these things take time,” trust that I mean these specific things, not just any old things. There are no words in The Psychic Paramount’s music; their diction is extraordinary and precise. After dozens of rips through II I have barely even begun to make out my fingers in front of my face. I won’t lie. Maybe I am beginning to sense coded relations between titles like “DDB” and “N6,” “N5” and (I’m not that dumb) “N5 Coda.” But I won’t lie. I won’t tell you to listen to this one or look out for that one. It’s an all-in proposition. Squint your eyes and you may glimpse forms in the storm. Open yourself wide and you might discern three silhouettes in the cataclysm, rooted, mindful, working. Open wide and dive in.