Exit Launch kicks off this release with a faint haze of synth drone and some clicking, buzzing sounds -- like technology malfunctioning. The clicking noise builds to a fevered pace, and after a minute a drum taps in, soon joined by voice and guitars. The voice is K. Michelle Dubois, who you might remember from such Atlanta bands as Luigi and Ultrababyfat, and here she sings clearly and lightly while the guitars build to a real grinding haze. This song grows from ambient to noisy shoegaze in three enjoyable minutes.
But wait -- Michelle Dubois in a shoegaze act? Yes, it's true gentle reader, Parsons Rocket Project is a new Atlanta act that deals in distortion and noise and melodic drones. We don't have many such bands in Atlanta, so Parsons Rocket Project is a nice diversion from the indie rock and underground hip-hop that infests our city.
In addition to Ms. Dubois on vocals, we have Jeff Holt (The Silent Kids, Georgia Fireflies) on guitar, joined by Paul Curry (The Titanics) on bass, Benjamin Price (Faun and a Pan Flute) on guitar, and newcomer Jody Hasty on drums. So in a way this is a local supergroup, who for some reason decided to make something more melodic and noisier than their regular music. Huh.
Well, i approve. This is a really good debut EP. The music here fluctuates between light ambient interludes and noisy guitar rock. But this is clean shoegaze, and by that i mean that the sounds are distinct and even though there is distortion on the guitar, the whole thing does not blur together into a mess. There are some shoegaze acts where the voice and the drums seem to suffer from bleed over from the distortion, and that does not happen here.
Exit Launch sinks back into the ambient of its beginning, which flows into Interlude 1, two minutes of guitars chiming over a faint synth drone. This is really pretty, and sounds a lot like July Skies.
The ambient fades out and Parsons Rocket Project give us some indie rock with Burn. This is a slow rocker, Dubois singing and the guitars grinding as the drums tap and piano occasionally tinkles. It cruises along nicely for a minute and a half then fades into another ambient interlude. This one is called One Moor Call and is a minute and a half of keyboard synth drone. As the drone progresses, a martial beat slowly builds in the background.
Guitar and drums fade in, and then a male voice sings, Dubois adding a backing layer. The male voice is uncredited on the recording, for whatever reason. The guitar is really nice on Solar Flare: a high-pitched trill that goes well with the tapping drums. The drums, the male voice, and the meandering pace make me think of Landing. I mean, this song is not quite as trip-y, but there is a small similarity there.
After the male voice ends, the music parts for Interlude II, which meanders much like the previous song for a minute, then everyone steps on pedals, the drummer increases the speed of his pounding, and Parsons Rocket Project spend almost two minutes channeling their inner SIANspheric. It's a nice end to the EP.
This EP really impresses me. I like the diversity of the sounds shown here, and how everything seems to flow together as one, with the track divisions kind of arbitrary, really. I mean, they could have divided the tracks differently and it still would work just as well.
Atlanta never seems to have this kind of band. Why haven't these people played at The EARL or something? Or wait, have they? I guess that i am kind of out of the loop anymore...
Now, a point about the band name. Apparently it is a reference to noted occultist / freak / rocket scientist Jack Parsons. However, after playing the music for The Girlfriend (a noted Deadhead) and after her signaling her approval of the music, she asked for the name. It drew an immediately expression of distaste. And when i asked why she said, "It is like that awful 1970s prog band ... they had an album about robots or something..."
"You mean the Alan Parsons Project?"
"Yes them. Ugh. So terrible. Why would anyone want to name their band after that?"
And, as soon as she said it, the two bands with the works "Parsons" and "Project" in their names became entangled in my mind. And for the record i own "that album about Robots", which is called I Robot and seems to me to be a better example of mid-1970s prog. However, many other people might have negative associations with that other act. An odd confluence of naming.
But i look forward to more from (the Alan) Parsons Rocket Project. Maybe their next release could be about robots!