Pram
Helium


4.5
superb

Review

by Cyan isn't a shade of blue. USER (40 Reviews)
February 16th, 2023 | 32 replies


Release Date: 1994 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Easy listening psych pop+musique concrete/2=Helium

Sour is an interesting flavor in that it’s both pleasurable and jarring to the tongue. At the same time, it’s a flavor that’s just as associated with fruit as sweet. Pram’s dissonant noises are aurally sour, much to the main rhythm’s sweetness. Helium, for all intents and purposes, is a musical raspberry fresh from the back of your fridge.

In terms of commercial appeal, Helium is an absolute nightmare. Occasionally taunting the listener with hints of a melody, the songs are primarily moody rhythmic soundscapes with silly effects popping in. The drums typically rush at a pace that feels ill-fitting to the vocals. Although there is guitar, it often takes a backseat to the bass and keys. It’s likely this rejection of rock tradition while using rock instrumentation that causes the album to be labeled as post-rock, despite sharing few other similarities with the genre’s signature bands. To those looking for a more traditional psychedelic pop work, the overall product will come off as a drab, uncatchy, and crowded racket.

For something so wonky, it's also gorgeous. Rosie Cuckston wails as a gentle ghost guiding you into the afterlife. Much of the tempo, despite the aforementioned drums, is slow and dreamy. Instrumentation that isn’t acting as non-sequitur, is mostly played cleanly and brightly. This contrast is what allows dissonant sounds to come off as so harsh against an otherwise pleasant core -like easy listening and musique concrete averaged out, or perhaps it’s better described as a worthy love letter to the weirdness of 60s psychedelic experimentation.

Although they are often compared to Stereolab and Broadcast, neither artist has Pram’s murky acidic aura. But it’s exactly that aura that makes it all work so well. How can something be so hectic while being so sprawling, creepy while being so warm, and raucous while being so pretty? As a ball of contradictions, Helium finds itself as enjoyable as it is challenging.



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user ratings (32)
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
robertsona
Staff Reviewer
February 16th 2023


27375 Comments


Turn up

ArsMoriendi
February 16th 2023


40928 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks Robertsona for looking it over



I'VE LISTENED TO THIS ALBUM 4 TIMES TODAY (and once yesterday) so uh yeah it rules...

SlothcoreSam
February 16th 2023


6194 Comments


Great review Arse, gonna listen to this ASAP!

Snake.
February 16th 2023


25242 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

oh yeah

SandwichBubble
February 16th 2023


13796 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice, really need to relisten to this band. Been a while.

ArsMoriendi
February 16th 2023


40928 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Nightwatch’s rubber bouncy sounds are so good

Demon of the Fall
February 16th 2023


33568 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I like Pram, don't have this 'un rate though, doh!

Nice work

GhandhiLion
February 16th 2023


17641 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Nice one. This is one of my faves

ArsMoriendi
February 16th 2023


40928 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Wow a rare Ghandhi 5

brainmelter
Contributing Reviewer
February 17th 2023


8318 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

hell yes

Pheromone
February 19th 2023


21317 Comments


reminder to check

ArsMoriendi
August 11th 2023


40928 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Did you ever check t Phero

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
August 22nd 2023


60229 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is some zany shit

ArsMoriendi
August 22nd 2023


40928 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Good zany or bad zany

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
August 22nd 2023


60229 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good zany!! Unsure how good, but this defs has some great moments

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
August 23rd 2023


60229 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Hmm yeah the second track and closer are fantastic. Some of this is a little too vague and gaseous, but I can see it growing

Demon of the Fall
August 23rd 2023


33568 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Sargasso Sea is rather good

I need to revisit this at some point, cannot recall much come to think of it

Demon of the Fall
November 20th 2023


33568 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Very much enjoyed this. A quality addition to my let-me-have-my-Stereolab-vibes-but-wonkier repertoire, currently sharing this space with erm... nothing that immediately springs to mind, actually

Demon of the Fall
November 21st 2023


33568 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah, this is brilliant. Wow. Those kraut-influenced rhythms alongside the gentler psych-pop elements and almost 'disinterested' dreamy vox shouldn't work, but the contradiction creates such an interesting overall sound

Nice review by the way Ars, I feel you really nailed that aspect (i.e. how there's a theoretical clash of separate elements here that could prove grating, but works well in spite of that)

I'll be checking out Broadcast too, seems to be a logical step



edit: (so I'm not quadruple posting), probably a 4.5 already!

ArsMoriendi
December 1st 2023


40928 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

lol nice



And yeah Broadcast’s debut is great



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