(92 Happy Customers)
Featuring members of Echo & The Bunnymen, including the only constant band member and guitarist Will Sergeant and long serving bassist Les Pattinson, with the line-up completed by Nick Kilroe on drums, Poltergeist is a group concerned with exploring the same mind-altering territory tread by many experimental rock groups of the last five decades. The group serves up lengthy meditations based around simple grooving basslines and repeating, motorik drums that could have come from the early 70s German music scene. Band leader Will Sergeant cites Neu! as a big influence on this project, amongst psychedelia and early progressive rock (if you hadn't already guessed that from the album's trippy title).
The guitar is the focus and driving point of the group, as band leader Will Sergeant displays an impressive and creative mastery of effects pedals, with reverb and delay often used in abundance amongst the sounds of reversed and otherwise altered guitars. His melodically straightforward playing style delivers catchy hook after hook with the same ease that served him so well in his main project.
Opener, Cathedral, lays out their intent as after less than a minute of build up the solid drum lines and simple bass lines enter the fray, giving away their krautrock influences, as the track continues to grow into a propellant motorik workout, soon joined by guitars that chime around echoing synth lines building further before guitars kick in with thick blistering distortion. On album stand out Dreamer Dreams of Spectrums, clean guitars switch between simple melodies, fleshed out with bubbling atmospheric synths. The track evolves naturally, feeling like a spaced-out journey takes place over its eight minutes, though other tracks like Psychic Warfare wears thin and doesn't require all of its length to explore its ideas.
It does veer into indulgence at points, with some of the guitar solos feeling unnecessary in an album that is lead by the guitar playing, which is at its best when its making creating use of effects and distortion. Whilst it doesn't take its influences anywhere new, there are some creative moments within these limitations. The guitar playing is the real star of the show, there are plenty of moments where I tried and failed to figure out how the guitar sounds are being made. There is a wide range of additional instruments, with keys and and synthesizers being used to good effect alongside what I'm fairly certain is a mellotron, further evoking the era they're playing homage to.
The album sounds like a band relishing the joy of creating, experimenting and just jamming with friends for the fun of it. Its an enjoyable take on some of the more interesting musical scenes of the the 60s and 70s filled with melody and skilled musicianship, though its sounds a lot more safe and less radical than the music it is clearly indebted to.
Originally posted on figure8magazine.co.uk