Psalm Zero, Cool Memories, No Ritual | Subterranean | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Psalm Zero, Cool Memories, No Ritual 17+ Soundboard Recommended Image

When: Wed., Aug. 10, 8:30 p.m. 2016

I can’t think of a contemporary NYC band that does nearly as great a job reflecting its present surroundings—or the public image available to those who don’t live in New York—than industrial postpunk trio Psalm Zero. The band’s recent sophomore album, Stranger to Violence (Profound Lore), its first since front man Charlie Looker kicked out founding member Andrew Hock following an allegation of sexual assault, is frigid, austere, and imposing. The new album bears more of the influence of Looker, who’s served in long-running experimentalist group Zs and led the critically overlooked avant-punk act Extra Life. The harsh tones of Stranger to Violence owe less to punishing volume and relentlessly dark riffs—though those are present—than to sudden shifts in sound: clean, multitracked vocals resemble Gregorian chants and tight, knotty melodies feel increasingly claustrophobic as computerized drums clank and clomp. According to the Profound Lore Bandcamp page, Stranger to Violence addresses “drug addiction, global financial crisis, western imperialism, and Jewish identity,” but I’ve yet to get a proper read on how Psalm Zero threads those themes together—I’m still far too engrossed in the swelling horns, shuddering guitar arpeggios, sinister vocal acrobatics, and scattered collage-pop touches of “Not Guilty.”

Leor Galil

Price: $8

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