Having dubbed themselves “ghost punks,” These Are Powers pepper their Taro Tarot EP with whooshings, whishings, and “woos” aplenty. The record, however, seems haunted primarily by the specters of its members’ erstwhile bands. A creepy, throbbing Krautrock influence, characteristic of Pat Noecker’s former mates Liars, intersects with distorted post-hardcore guitars that evoke guitarist/vocalist Anna Barie’s demised Knife Skills. The record’s general “dark” ambiance brings to mind recent efforts by Magik Markers and Clockcleaner, while its thumping tribal drums seem culled from Excepter. It’s unclear, at first listen, why These Are Powers deem themselves more ghoulish than their noisy peers.
Still, Taro Tarot has an appealing eeriness, thanks to percussionist Bill Solas. The record’s opener, “All Night Services,” would be a forgettable no-wave-ication of the blues – with repetitive verse lyrics and the occasional screeching wash of guitar noise – but Solas times sharp variations and cymbal crashes to vary his basic beat just so. The song’s final moments are its highlight, as the other instruments drop out and his drumming rises to the top. Throughout the EP, Solas intersperses little divergences like these between his standard pounding beats.
The rest of the band executes competent but tired noise-rock: shrieky male/female vocals, pedal trickery, and simple, discordant riffs. One standout track is “Cockies,” a feedback-shrouded drone where Barie plays her shrill vox off the guitar’s high register and the rumbling toms.
It might seem a backhanded compliment to say that These Are Powers’ strength lies in writing short songs. But, honestly, they could easily turn the elements at play here into rambling hoodoo-noise jams and blend into the Brooklyn background. Like good punks, These Are Powers structure their songs to draw you in, and end them before boredom sets in. If they can transcend their more theatrical inclinations and steer clear of noise-rock clichés, they may become more than merely pastiche-core.