# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Miscellaneous - Explain the Unexplained

  by Andrew Carver

published: 16 / 8 / 2003

Miscellaneous - Explain the Unexplained
Label: Select Label
Format: N/A


In the latest in our 'Re :View' series, in which we look back upon albums that we feel deserve further re-evaluation, Andrew Carver examines Los Angeles space rockers Pressurehed's relatively unknown 1997 masterwork 'Explaining the Unexplained'

It begins with a squall of radio static ... through the buzz a narrator speaks: “The following recordings you are about to here ... are true. We bring you tales from the realms of the occult ... unidentified flying objects ... alien abduction ... living dinosaurs ... the afterlife ... Mayan technology ... phantoms and ESP — tales of the paranormal ... visitations from the other side we will attempt to Explain the Unexplained”. Then the  drum machine and grumbling, piping synths kick in, a  taster  for the lysergic, riff-heavy electronica to come ... 'Explaining the Unexplained' was the finest moment of Los Angeles spacerockers Pressurehed. The band had been weened on a mixture of krautrock rhythms, psychedelic trippery, garage punk riffs and industrial clatter— they were the children of Hawkwind, Ministry, Chrome and Julian Cope; kindred spirits to groups like F/i. Indeed, band members have a close link with Hawkwind, having performed with Hawkwind alumnus Nik Turner on his solo albums and as Anubian Lights. They toured as Space Ritual 94 with Turner and Del Dettmar. Former Chrome guitarist Helios Creed is a band pal, and a fellow guest on Turner’s 'The Sphinx' to boot. Stretching from the kooky to the sinister, 'Explaining the Unexplained' was certainly nicely packaged, with a 52-page booklet expounding on various “unexplained phenomena”, as well as providing a history and discography of the band and its offshoots. The core of Pressurehed was vocalist and guitarist Tommy Grenas and rhythm and electronics player Len del Rio; on 'Explaining the Unexplained' they were joined by  Doran Shelley (ex Deathride 69) and bassist Paul Fox — every band member is also credited with keyboards, synthesizers or ARP. Although the basic template of the tunes sticks to freak-out guitar, looped drums, synth riffs and loping bass, the band varied the songs with a mountain of effects, tempo changes and the lyrical subjects enunciated in the opening track. From such simple elements, the band created a remarkably cohesive effort. 'Mokele-Mbembe', about dinosaurs living in Africa’s hinterlands, unknown to all but the locals, gets watery sound effects and Afro-Cuban syncopation Acidic and empty-room guitar, while pushing drums and pulsing synth energize the astral-travel themed 'Altitude.' Chirping crickets and woodsy sounds that introduce the instrumental 'Bluff Creek, And Beyond' segues into a brief spoken word segment of swamp guru wisdom (what was  that about catfish bait?), then some very Chrome-y distorted guitar riffs. 'Black Mantra 'could be about space travel, or just about being spaced out, with its echoing synth tone and sinister mutterings about faces in the sky and silver spheres. The chiming intro of instrumental 'One Who Has Seen' is vaguely reminiscent of some of Pink Floyd’s late period arpeggiated songs. The scariest track is 'Incubus' — spooky rhythms over a sound clip of a phone in to a preacher’s radio phone-in show show has a teen claiming to be afflicted with demonic possession (apparently, you can receive the benefit of exorcism over the phone). 'Transgression (Part 2)', with its choral voices and rapid-fire percussion track would fit quite comfortably on a Front 242 or Skinny Puppy album. 'The Great Orm' is a shorter, ambient track, with the sound of lapping waves and bassy synth pulses. Though it’s synth-heavy modulations are somewhat out of fashion now, the sound of Pressurehed — sampled drum loops, wobbling keyboards, relentless effect-laden guitar riffs —lives on in such stoner-synth outfits as earthlings? and Finnish riff-addicts Circle.

Track Listing:-

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