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Peeesseye - Oo-ee-oo (Burnt Offering)

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Artist: Peeesseye

Album: Oo-ee-oo (Burnt Offering)

Label: Evolving Ear

Review date: Apr. 27, 2006

The Brooklyn trio Peeesseye (or PSI, as they’ve previously been known) are likely not religious fellows, though, as its title implies, Oo-ee-oo, the group’s latest release, stirs their acoustic improv to a ritualistic boil. Largely a product of acoustic guitar, vocals, harmonium, and assorted percussion, the disc’s dark shadows don’t explicitly reek of evil, but the vibes of the album are distinctly downcast. Oo-ee-oo may not be a product of demonic possession or religious fervor, but the disc hints at flavors of both, and Chris Forsyth, Jaime Fennelly and Fritz Welch are shown to have certainly hit a vein.

The Evolving Ear website references the recording of Oo-ee-oo in a New Jersey basement, likely an environment found suitable for both its acoustic and atmospheric qualities. The album’s claustrophobic air is palpable, and the reverb of the space proves to be a useful tool in the Peeesseye’s evocations, especially as the opening acoustic guitar swells to meet a mélange of conspirators in the disc’s most clamorous moments. It’s very much the ambiance of the recording that turns what might ordinarily sound like crowded improv into something more sinister. The growled, garbled and guttural vocals that accompany the guitar in the disc’s quieter beginning, half involuntary expulsion and half animal snarl, are Oo-ee-oo’s first dip into shadows. As the music grows in both mass and intensity, Peeesseye begin to infringe upon the listeners personal space, with the harmonium and percussion rising into a dense clamor. The cacophony subsides, leaving a slow, repeated strumming of one chord and percussive squeals of manipulated metal before the harmonium slowly drones into the foreground. Oo-ee-oo teeters to its conclusion, picking up inertia in places, but moving so unevenly that the music never reaches the levels of its earlier climax.

After experiencing Oo-ee-oo as a whole, it can be surprising to realize that its apex of sound come so early in the album’s progression. The more overtly baleful qualities of the disc tend to leave the most lasting impression on the mind, and it’s easy to forget that Peeesseye spend nearly 20 minutes in a sort of hazy, extended denouement. But, in its unwinding, Oo-ee-oo doesn’t relent entirely. Welch, Forsyth and Fennelly take this time to disentangle their ominous rumble into a series of extended abstractions, and while the music isn’t as forceful, the atmosphere of the album is preserved. It’s this segment of the recording, surely not its most initially striking, that establishes itself as Oo-ee-oo’s most affecting stuff. The earlier, more purposeful aggression – in this light – feels almost too overt; the slow deceleration of the album is where its creepy charm bountifully lies.

By Adam Strohm

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