In this year's Terrastock, Detroit's Paik was once again one of the show stealers. While the instrumental combo's formula isn't the most original sound in the world, their songs are fun, the tunes are well-defined, the live sound is intense, and their stage presence is nothing less than godlike. Monster of the Absolute is easily one of this year's better instrumental rock records, as it's the sexy side of gritty: something you don't mind getting dirty for because it feels that good.
Contrary to what a lot of people say, Paik aren't really a metal band nor do I find a lot of metal in their mix. They're hot and blistering, raw and tireless. It's void of posturing, wanky guitar solos, and has a solid spinal cord made out of beats. Although Monster of the Absolute opens and closes with the thick smoke of beat-less layered guitar, the foundation of each of the album's five main songs is the groove.
The rhythm section is usually the first to make themselves clearly known and on top the riff or mainline lie. On a song like "Phantoms," the lead guitars hold fairly close to a melodic structure, with only the pitch bending slightly. "Snake Face" is met with a wall of dissonance: the pulse is driving the song like a powerful train that's chugging along and the whine is the roar of its engine. The unease of the blistering guitars isn't that far from the more dissonant sounds of Loop or the tamer side of Major Stars. Even when the song's intro is ushered in by guitars on something like "October," it's the beat which leads the way, with shakers and infrequent chime sounds. In a brief 6+ minutes this song shifts gears a couple times yet it gracefully maintains the same melody as was opened with. The 9+ minute title track is this album's magnum opus, as it's thunderous, anthemic, and relentless and gives way to the last song, "Contessa," where a bass line is king and guitars, while loud, remain remarkably peaceful for the duration.
Paik are good at making the best of time on Monster of the Absolute: they don't waste a single moment on this short album and I have no complaints about its length. Brevity is sometimes enough to want to keep going back immediately after because all too often there's the feeling of distorted time and the "did I miss that" syndrome. In a flash it seems that Monster is over and I'm aching for more rather than feeling like I've had enough and that's crucial to getting us back again for the next time.
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