Pedal Steel Transmission
The Angel of the Squared Circle
“Waiting,” the epic ten minute opener of The Angel of the Squared Circle is the kind of grubby, post-apocalyptic Mexican bar rock Robert Rodriguez should have used in From Dusk Till Dawn. It’s a good enough song, but severely lacking in titular pedal steel. I was about to cry foul, but the remaining tracks stayed my tongue.
“Amy” and “Silent Like Hands” are pitch-perfect dirt road pop, alternately languid and frenetic, coasting along in familiar grooves and barreling over pot holes. They sound like an infant Wilco, if Jeff Tweedy had been in Tortoise rather than Uncle Tupelo. The post-rock influence is never far from the surface on many of these tracks. Pedal Steel Transmission embodies the same paranoid scientific woodsman aesthetic that Modest Mouse’s Isaac Brock created, but PST applies it to post-rock instrumentation. The lumbering, woozy south of the border rhythm changes of “Editene” and “Gilman Report” are prime examples of the band’s experimental tendencies.
Throughout all the cacophony and quiet there’s a distance on this album stretched out by the pedal steel and tremolo-heavy guitars. It feels like dusk, with a mottled red sky burning at eye level, making silhouettes of everything. I can think of other discs that dish out larger doses of pedal steel, but this album really feels like fall and that’s nearly perfect right now.