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Psalm Zero: Stranger to Violence

This album is hard to describe. For some listeners it will be a fascinating exploration of extreme music and something like pop music. It is also the culmination of an extended series of teases and singles from the talented mind of Charlie Looker, a New York musician with plenty of fans. For others, this album will prove to be more of a baffling musical experience, especially since the final result is actually less experimental in mood and in sound than it promised. Instead, the music here is more akin to bands like Depeche Mode (mixed with Morrissey) but without the catchy hooks and choruses.

Frankly, I was one of the baffled listeners. I do not resist experimental music (or pop music) out of hand. I listen to music as carefully as possible so I can develop as good an understanding of what I hear as possible. But I was nevertheless confused as to what this album was supposed to do. I realize that Looker has a good reputation as an underground musician, one with a penchant for experimentation. Instead of a striking experimental album, one that takes extreme music in new and interesting directions, the album falls short and sometimes sounds flat and uninteresting. As noted above, the music turns in the direction of dark pop music (think Depeche Mode's Black Celebration but in an even darker mood), and seems to get stuck there.

This album also engages with certain thematic concerns: drugs, imperialism, Jewish identity, and the global financial crisis. I wonder if Psalm Zero confused experimentation with politics and muddied the music as a result. Politics obviously has a place in music but this album seems to have lost track of its overall purpose somewhere along the way.

Track Listing:
1. Stranger to Violence
2. Pay Tomorrow
3. Real Rain
4. Not Guilty
5. Stolen by Night
6. White Psyche
7. Oblivion's Eye

Added: September 20th 2016
Reviewer: Carl Sederholm
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 1357
Language: english

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