Forget About the Monotony of Being with Palm's 'Rock Island'
Paradise as we know it is a versatile concept. Most beings don’t share the same idea of what their quintessential place or state of mind should feel or look like--some beings don’t even know this idea exists. For the past couple of days, I’ve found paradise in Palm’s latest LP Rock Island via Carpark Records. Rock Island puts me at peace because I can’t quite put my finger on what’s happening, and enjoy the solace of the uncategorized and unknown. All I can articulate for sure is that Rock Island is a good place to let things go.
Palm’s four members, Eve Alpert and Kasra Kurt (vocals and guitar) and bass player Gerasimos Livitsanos and drummer Hugo Stanley, formed the experimental outfit at Bard College in 2011 and hit the ground running ever since. The Philadelphia based band released their first LP Trading Basics in 2015 and came out with the EP Shadow Expert just last year. While Palm’s entire discography includes fragmented patterns of varying instrumentals, sugary twang and glimmer dwells in Rock Island’s superb landscape.
Take the two tracks, “Pearly” and “Dog Milk.” Both of them flutter and have a jittery effect without lacking flow. A large part of their light ear-ringing effect is the steel drums that Palm made a prominent sound throughout the album. In “Pearly,” the steel drums create the initial twinkle played against shifty drums and Alpert’s glossy vocals. The track plays like a grandiose welcoming trumpet, but with multiple facets and edges, while “Dog Milk,” is a tad less sharp. The steel drums are a little muffled sounding, without taking away too much of the glassy hit.
It’s somewhat surprising that none of Palm’s members were musically trained in the classical sense because of the precision and intention in each tangled composition. While tracks like “Composite” and “Forced Hand” seem like a web of jagged notes and distorted twang, each note feels mechanically sporadic. A manipulated mind fuck if you will.
Because of the nature of Palm’s fast and spinning tracks, it’s not hard to miss what Alpert and Kurt are singing to you. Kurt touches on falling victim to the banality of the world’s inhabitants and status quo in the more mild track “Bread” as he sings, “No questions asked guarantee fell away/A population of people who deal in cliché/And there's no punctuation to grant you relief/You know all that you get is a chance to agree.” A valid sentiment coming from a band who sticks their neck far out from the ordinary.
Though it comes dangerously close, Rock Island was not made to be a flawless oasis. It doesn’t come naturally for a lot of us to remain at ease in a world of fragments, distortion, and puzzle pieces that don’t necessarily create a singular, perfect image. However, if you want to forget about societal norms and the monotony of being, Rock Island is here for you to venture.