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Psi: Artificially Retarded Soul Care Operators

Psi: Artificially Retarded Soul Care Operators

Label:Evolving Ear
Release Date:2005

By Marc Masters | Posted 8/17/2005

Lots of experimental groups rely on dynamics to vary their noise, but Brooklyn, N.Y., trio Psi uses volume as a weapon. On their third album, guitarist Chris Forsyth, percussionist Fritz Welch, and electronics player Jamie Fennelly generate distant sounds that often drift toward pure silence. But when they step forward, their music can quickly turn loud and abrasive, with bracing jolts slicing through the stillness like gunshots at a funeral. After one band member opens “Golden Showers” by declaring, “you can hear a pin drop,” the band detonates a series of howling noise bombs, until the same voice concludes, “we’re going to get killed for playing such ugly music.”

But Artificially Retarded is actually pretty attractive. Everything here, from the most subdued minimalism to the most aggressive harshness, has a complexity and texture that consistently entice. Even the least intricate track, the ear-crushing “Permanent War,” provides miles of sonic density to wade through. Most entrancing are the quieter passages: Listen to Artificially Retarded casually and these portions seem to disappear, but zoom in and the range of sounds is mesmerizing. The 16-minute “We Broke the Sun” is the peak, with small scrapes building into dense noise, segmented by metronomic drum thumps that, like sparse hiccups, never fail to startle. Such dexterity is Artificially Retarded’s biggest surprise: Beneath Psi’s shock tactics lies a subtlety that’s kind of astounding.

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