The problem with most space rock is that it comes off as human as one of the elder gods in an H.P. Lovecraft story: all amorphous, cloudy, otherworldly and not easily relatable. My previous exposure to Paik came from their split with Kinski and Surface of Eceyon. While Paik’s tracks were very good, they were hemmed in by the bounds of limitlessness, like space-eating clouds of rust. Satin Black finds the band doing something largely the same, yet entirely different: they actually touch the ground.
The first track, “Jayne Field,” is Paik at the most melodic I’ve ever heard them. Built around trilling wire tendons, a deep bed of backing bass and the percussive force of a mining dig, the song is their most shoegaze inspired track to date. The succeeding track, “Dirt For Driver,” flounders slightly because the root riff is a bit too cumbersome to support its ever-blossoming flower of pink guitar noise. Yet, the song is redeemed by its tastefully reigned in outro. The band does a better job on “Dizzy Stars,” which even occasionally drops into Melvins sludge territory. The title track begins with a tortuous navigation of horror movie woods and deserted train tracks while being chased by a lumbering bass guitar. The song closes with the pursuant percussion snarled up and assimilated by malevolent guitar feedback. The closer, “Stellar Meltdown en El Oceano,” is the album’s biggest atmospheric tease and most enjoyable track. The ubiquitous drones maintain a nice height throughout, rhythmically bottoming out almost to the point at which the guitars could land and launch into a full-blown melody, before the pulse spikes back up to its monochrome flat line. What really make the song special are the “organic” incidentals: the soft blanket of summer evening wilderness hushed in the background, traces of a sweetly plunked banjo, etc. These traces of earth lend a new dimension to the mind-wandering celestial ruminations of Paik. If nothing else, it’s nice to hear that these astronauts don’t need to focus on The Great Beyond all the time.
Strange Attractions: www.strange-attractors.com