Review Summary: Bland drone-rock, lacking energy and movement.
As they’ve been doing for years, Paik manage to once again create ambient environments hinting of darkness and thick with emotion. Unfortunately, the music is a little too thick if you ask me, plodding painfully through dry, mediocre progressions, with no refreshing ending in sight.
Formed in Toledo and currently based in Detroit, Michigan, Paik are a dynamic power trio who have been creating their version of post-rock since 1997. Space-rock, shoe-gaze, drone-rock or whatever else you want to call it, their sound is monotonous, but they manage to work it into enjoyable music. Corridors is the second album by the group, the follow-up to 1998’s Hugo Strange.
Opener “Tinsel and Foil” starts the album off without any hesitation. Soft snare drum introduces strong guitar melodies, and beneath all of it is a very thick and weighty bass foundation. It develops into a huge track, one of the strongest on the album, and its placement at the beginning is a little surprising to me. The tracks which immediately follow it don’t compare to it at all, as I sadly realized after excitedly pressing on through the lengthy album. “Strange Familiar” is extremely boring, failing to lead anywhere beyond its mediocre beginning. “Spacer (2001)” is the next track of note. At a lengthy 8:24, I was hoping for poignant crescendos and real musical development. Unfortunately, it’s basically a few simple chord progressions with hardly any development at all. There is not even a hint of the orgastic climaxes so often sought in post-rock, rather the song prefers to fester in a droning, dreary state. All it amounts to is a drudge filled song that drags on much longer then it really deserves to. “Hollow Ki” ventures off in a more melodic direction, a welcome shift, unfortunately it captures none of the beauty groups like Saxon Shore or Caspian so easily emanate. Likewise, “Spanning Time” manages to emulate some attractiveness in its bridge, but in a nearly ten-minute long song, you expect a little more.
Something a little unique in my mind to this album is how they delve straight intro tracks, without drawn out intros or slow crescendos. Tracks start and end, and that idea is fresh to my mind; unfortunately, the execution and actual songs based on that blueprint are only average. As nice as it is to not have to wait for the songs to get going, I find myself instead immediately anticipating change or a refreshing refrain, and encounter nothing but more of the same. Maybe this is what drone-fans expect and enjoy, but I’ve enjoyed my share of the genre, and this just doesn’t get the job done.
Finally at the end, closer “Longest Day” lets in a small ray of sunshine, something I’ve waited thirstily for during the several listens I’ve given this album prior to reviewing it. Guitarist Rob Smith layers a beautiful progression with a simple melody. Drummer Ryan Pritts and bassist Ali Clegg make their presence felt in ways that compliment the song properly, allowing me to remember the album in a better light then I may have otherwise. It’s disappointing, for with a bit more movement I could see myself really enjoying this and perhaps properly appreciating the group.