The Psychic Paramount has plenty of the sheer mass people love in instrumental rock, yet II is lethally fine-grained, raining thousands of sharp little crystals rather than ascending through stately cloud banks. The trio doesn’t power songs ahead by simply changing volume—well, at times from “fucking loud” to “suffocatingly loud”—but by re-arranging and re-purposing on a dime, condensing what was once spread out, and vice-versa. “Intro/SP” gradually shifts all the band’s weight onto one syncopated pulse, as if drummer Jeff Conway is pulling the rest of the band ever more slavishly into his orbit. “RW” shows how these changes can be as graceful as they are abrupt. The band goes through the most mutations on “DDB”: A guitar wanders over a deceptively reassuring ride cymbal, only to give way to snapping hi-hat and a miniature galaxy of throbs and echoes. The rhythm guitar often turns into an eerily precise, fast stab of percussion, especially on “Intro/SP” and “N6.” The bass carves out a slower, but no less mad, spiral around the tilts and contractions of “N5 Coda.” Because of its obsession with rhythm, II is at once more accessible and more overpowering than the average instrumental record. Each repetition brings an ambush, and a renewal.
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