Dusted Reviews

Pharaoh Overlord - #3

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Pharaoh Overlord

Album: #3

Label: Riot Season

Review date: Jun. 28, 2005

Imagine a highway, eight lanes, going in both directions, into an endless horizon. It’s near dusk, around the “magic hour” as the professionals in the movie industry like to call it. Muted colors and the cool night air add another level of anticipation. Green grass rustles in a gentle breeze as insect life goes on about its business.

Before listening to Pharaoh Overlord’s latest album #3, only two artists previously offered up such complete images: Kraftwerk and Neu!, hallogalloing down der Autobahn as is their wont. The big difference is that those artists inspire motion. Instead, imagine the road empty, the potential for travel untapped. Here, we have the dilemma. There, you have #3.

The trio of Pharaoh Overlord contains members of legendary underground Finnish prog-rockers Circle, men who know their way around expectedly circuitous compositions with jarring changes and momentous shifts, which Pharaoh Overlord gets half-right on #3. These songs, though recorded and performed clearly and in the heat of interlocking musicianship, are content to spin their wheels in place. There are few breaks, few shifts, not enough to strongly discern beginning from end and anywhere in between. Half the tracks on the album start a certain way and wind down ever so slightly from there, with no development past slight changes in guitar phrasing and a little wiggle room in the drum patterns. Opener “Test Flight,” for example, burns on strong with a crisp, loud snare and clean bass and guitar weaving in and out. Nine minutes later, it’s still doing the same thing; promising the excitement of Krautrock and leaving nothing but the bearded, bald aftertaste of a late-'70s Windham Hill release. “Blackout,” its follow-up, replaces the pulse of the drums with a pendulum, and allows the bass to plonk and feed back like steel cables in the breeze, but that busy guitar riff… Well, it’s going nowhere, and fast.

The tracks that do offer some sort of variation – the clean/noisy dyad of “Octagon,” the monotonous noise track “Autobahn,” and the album’s best track “Laivaus 17,” which buzzes with nerves and showcases some much-needed layering understated improvisational interplay between guitar and bass – do so in such obvious ways, ways which will frustrate and try patience over the course of their nearly 40-minute runtime (as these tracks run together in a suite). In ways it’s commendable that they had such vision to hold back any kinetic energy in the songs and yet expended so much on such tight instrumental interplay, but you’ll have a hard time finding anything new or overly exciting here, or convincing anyone of the contrary.

By Doug Mosurock

Read More

View all articles by Doug Mosurock

Find out more about Riot Season

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.