Pascagoula is a small industrial town located on the Gulf Coast, a scant 1 hour 49 minutes northeast of New Orleans. It is also a new four-piece rock band from Brighton, though why the boys named themselves Pascagoula and not after neighbouring Biloxi is beyond me. Sounds funnier. They’ve just released their debut LP The Path, The Cross, The Aftermath and have kick-started their live tour which many will no doubt attend. Not me but others, I assume.
The first thing that hits you is the distorted arrangement. Little is done electronically in mixing, it’s all practical effects; turning the guitars up too high creating amp feedback which is blended with what sounds like heavy drum back-beats, with lyrics half screamed, half sobbed. The second thing that hits is that it’s less stripped-down and more flayed (and I don’t mean that in a good way). Lumbering, it uses feedback to mask the slow, deathly rigidness of the LP.
Opening with ‘Radium Girls’ the album nail-guns its colours firmly to the mast. A mixture of harsh feedback distortion wrapped up in an Adagio tempo, sounding ridged, like a military band on parade. ‘Burning Psalm’ has the same issue. I’d actually go as far as to say that both tracks are exactly the same, with only a slight change in arrangement to mark their individuality.
Meanwhile, ‘Kiss the Ground’ and ‘The Unnerving Certainty Everything is Wrong’ change things up a little but it’s still more of the same that we’ve heard on this album. Maybe going as high as an Adagietto tempo with a slight improvement of arrangement; allowing music to come across instead of a constant distortion but it doesn’t go far enough. ‘The Unnerving Certainty…’ is probably the best track on the whole LP, though it would have been better as an instrumental. ‘Bitches Bow’ sounds like it’s going to change the formula with a slow building guitar and piano wire strikes and you just hope it breaks into a higher tempo rate, but instead it jumps back into the same Adagio arrangement as every other track. The whole LP sounds like one long laborious feedback loop mixed with angry screams that become white noise after a while.
There is a lot to be said for a striped-down and distorted arrangements. Even techno stalwarts Alec Empire,and even Aphex Twin have used them. But they used a fast tempo beat, gave it angry harmonics and, most importantly, passion. That’s the key problem with The Path, The Cross, The Aftermath. There is tempo but no real rhythm. There is arrangement but no harmony. Lacklustre, there is no passion and no energy. Even the anger in the lyrics loses its impact, especially during ‘Kiss the Ground’ where they seem to have slid out of the lead singer’s mouth.
I actually feel bad for writing this as it is Pascagoula’s first album but it is dispassionate; a constant slow tempo and with a militaristic beat robs the LP of any form of warmth, with the feedback and distortion leaving it cold and listless.
The Path, The Cross, The Aftermath is out now via Dry Cough Records.