Review of Palais Ideal: Pressure Points

Band: Palais Ideal

Album: Pressure Points

Label: Cold Transmission


John Edwards: 
Vocals, Guitars, Synths, Rhythm Programming 

Richard van Kruysdijk: 
Bass Guitar, Baritone Guitar, Guitar, Synths, 
Backing Vocals, Rhythm Programming

I’ve been searching for the right words for this May 25th 2019 release from Palais Ideal. This album had such an profound impact on me. It’s an early runner for my album of the year and we are just getting started. For me when I think of this record I think of the first time I heard The Church and thought, they are doing the same thing as most of the new wave bands. They are just doing it on a level of depth and complexity which touch on a higher step, while somehow maintaining everything in terms of pop sensibility that their contemporaries are achieving. I think the lack of sugar coating could make Palais Ideal easy to look past when in reality they are the ones creating something most profound.

John Edwards

John has such a wonderful and unique voice which i will expand on later but for a moment I want to focus on the message rather than the voice it is given in. You just don’t hear intelligent, challenging lyrical content like this in modern post punk music. A lot of it is expressive and clever but what Pressure Points has done is weave a cohesive tale of vibrant expression about the plight and achievement of modern culture. It’s Issac Asimov set to a tapestry of music. Enormous in scope and precise in vision. I have listened to these songs so many times already but I ordered the LP and put off writing the review partially out of intimidation partially because i needed to absorb the record played front to back as it was made to be heard. I’m not saying they don’t have great singles here. To me, this is a record of the best 12 deep cuts spaced over a bands 10 albums in one place.

Richard van Kruysdijk

Lets talk about what is unique here. Post Punk tends to lend itself to a technically adept style and Palais Ideal features two masters of craft at the height of their instruments. What they have done is take a step beyond the technical proficiency and into the progressive rock style almost more King Crimson than Joy Division. Dramatic shifts in key and tempo. Time syncopation that has the same heavy driving bass but such fluid movement of tone that it transcends the genre. The music is layered like mesh steel on a robots thigh. John has a voice that flickers and strikes with clarity and hovers on a range between Bernard Sumner, Joe Strummer and Mark Burgess yet always finds a way to cut through the complexity of the tempest. The use of guitars and Synths are economical and create a cleanness in spite of how much is going on.

How on earth to pick favorite tracks?

The Programme – What a complete cybernetic device digging into the depths of your skull and rattling around the pleasure zones in your brain. This bass line is everywhere at once. John’s delivery and that winding guitar rift which glances like light through a prism. “The Colony breaks down, we built it up again, we run the program now” A true statement on the loss of reality through technological euphoria. Facing the self shackled slavery of the modern world with glorious synth candy.

Context Collapse – This high energy snare snap building into a smooth cornered transition and that signature delicate guitar light show. “Forever avoiding a moment of disconnection. Improving, engineering a more transparent you.” So much to unpack here, layers upon layers.

Everything Will Be Ok – So much focus is on this dytopian world of the modern struggle this dance beat New Order soother with the strange echo robot effect vocals breaks up the weight and lets everything go green. “There is no such thing as destiny, life gives you everything you need. Everything will be ok?” So tongue and cheek I can almost beleive.

Overall this album is a force of everything that this new renaissance in post punk music is making possible. First you tear it down, then you rebuild it, then you synthesize it to a higher complexity and evolution. Pressure Points is a soundtrack for the modern spy novel of the post digital age. It’s full of adventure, depth, and a calculated empathy that makes me dream of electric sheep. This will be an album I am still peeling apart when I am putting together a list of the most important musical contributions of the year.


Review of Monographic: Structures

and: Monographic

Album: Structures

Lable: Cold Transmission Records

Release Date: Oct 12 2018

Members: Björn Ullmann (vocals/Guitar) Ric Freymann (Guitar)

Recorded 2017 by Javier Ortiz at Brazil Studios (Madrid, Spain) 
Mixed and mastered by Timo Höcke at Wellenschmiede (Hamburg

So my newest review is for a German band off of Cold Transmission records called Monographic. Since I have been listening to a lot of post punk music you definitely start to get lost in the landscape of this standard post punk sound. So when I hear a new one I am really looking for something that sets them apart from the pack. I also need a level of quality that pays homage to the predecessors of the genre. I know a tall order but Monographic checks those boxes. Lets first talk about where they break new ground. The singer Bjorn Ulmann croons in a beautiful baritone which is so missing in this style. He slips from highs to lows to change tone and build emotion. You can hear his hint of an accent in his well delivered English lyrics that reminded me of Marc Burgess of the Chameleons. He also has enough razor in his voice to cut past the monotone drone of his contemporaries. He sings in a lilting and energetic singing volley with the dancing guitar rifts. I found myself drawn to the straight forward truth of the lyrics. Lets talk drums, my heart was pounding from the use of driving and prominent toms that reminded me of the Happy Mondays. For being dark post punk music the drive and energy had a bright flavor that I found captivating.

The songs are extremely well played with the faithful quality you are looking for in a retrospective post punk sound. This is a very city scape feeling sound. Movement and dark streets at 2am bustling home with pretty people going exciting places. It has that heartbeat thrum of life that can be captured in the sound of a band that has lived and breathed the face of an urban landscape. The guitars are full of motion and Ulmann’s chanting vocals give a blue collar punk edge that offsets the technical complexity of the guitars and music. It’s stripped down and driving in a scene full of synthesizers and texture. Monographic focuses on the driving bassline of the roots. Taking this step back in time I feel added further originality to the sound.

Stand out tracks include:

Addicted – This is a straight forward post punk driver that definitely had a feel of the Chameleons. It was sharp and edgy just to this side of post punk without crossing into a punk level of snarl. It’s a topic easy to relate to. The guitars are thick and Ulmann’s cadence keeps motion and blood flowing through the song until it’s end.

The Old Ones – Not sure if this was an HP Lovecraft shout out but it definitely had a dark and frightening elder tension. This makes excellent use of those toms to create a driving tension. I love the breakdown which drops everything away then allows the scalpel precision guitar to cut through the darkness.

Out of Time – I love when an album builds you into what you think of as the sound of this band and then flips the script on it’s head with a totally different tone and sound. This was that track. It has a bright vibrant energy that has flavors of The Church and other New wave progressive sensibility. It has an edge on the front of the beat to create urgency and is a wonderful lift in the middle of the album.

Overall this album is very familiar. It is building on concepts I know and love, but rather than re inventing the wheel it changes and blends just enough of these familiar themes to find it’s own voice. The production is first rate and the fast medium tempo keeps your foot tapping through the end. I wanted to hear more chances taken, to push further to the edge. At the same time I bask in the warm glow of a tone and sounds I love done with a unique twist that kept my attention. Listening to this album is like seeing an old friend with an exciting new story about where life is today. Hear that story for yourself.