added: 16 Mar 2014
// release date: 10 Feb 2014 // label: Function Records
reviewer: Paul Chapinal
Formed in Toronto in 1998 Picastro seem to have had a revolving door of personnel since but have managed to tour and release albums on a regular basis, and now appears to have a settled line up.
No point messing about, this new album from Picastro is not an easy listen, and will have limited appeal. Itís discordant, melancholic strings and eccentric vocal performances give it an overall feeling of alienation, and oppression. Saying that, perseverance and patience is the key here and maybe, just maybe, youíll get something from it.
They deal with a basic band set up, plus lots of strings. Opener Mountain Relief pretty much reveals all with strings at the fore, overlaid with spoken vocals and one-armed percussion. If they were going for vast soundscapes theyíve failed and actually managed to conjure up miserable emptiness as on the excruciating Judas Claim and Temur. The sauce here are the strings and they are usually deployed expertly, and donít sound bolted-on. But at times their tempo does lead to a leaden pace and a sense of Ďalready heard thatí.
Also, there isnít any real relief from the gloom as such just variations in its extremity. For example Vampiresís subtle use of electronica is quite alluring, the infusion of Spanish guitar on Thatís It and oddly enough the longest track Baron on the Trees, which at times brought to mind Japan at their more experimental. The album closes with the acoustic oddity February, and despite comments above, itís not quite the relief that youíd expect as the overall sound does linger in the mind.
At 33 minutes itís not a long album but with its nihilistic and dour vibe it could feel longer. This is not everyoneís cup of tea, even the most broadminded will have difficulties, it is worth a listen though.
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