PHILM (Harmonic) CD
'Harmonic' is definitely one of the most captivating albums, I received in 2012 so far. Moreover, it's an absolute masterpiece of complex sounds and mood. And when I tell you that it has been released by Ipecac Recordings then it should be clear that an open-minded attitude is required. Basically, it's not possible to put 'Harmonic' in one box, because PHILM draws influences from many sources to create music which challenges stereotypes. For example there are traces of old D.C. hardcore punk and there's a bit of metal and some jazz and some 1960's stuff, and the result is absolutely consistent. PHILM does not stop at musical borders, and I can well imagine that 'Harmonic' is just too much for some listeners.
Especially for such thrash metal fans, who bought this album because of Dave Lombardo, the drummer of PHILM. But while Slayer has long become a bad joke (they released the last good album in 1990 and have forgotten to break up after that), Dave Lombardo proves his creative power yet again, together with bassist Pancho Tomaselli (current bassist for classic rock/funk band War) and guitarist/vocalist Gerry Nestler of Civil Defiance. These three full-blooded musician are taking the listener on an exciting musical journey, that never becomes monotonous or boring, but instead providing new impressions again and again. It's definitely a long journey, because the album consists of 15 tracks.
At the beginning PHILM show themselves from their aggressive side, and sometimes it sounds as if Helmet, Rites Of Spring and Fugazi have merged. With 'Way Down', things are changing. PHILM slows down and moves towards jazz, post-rock and psychedelic. There is a smooth transition to the title track and suddenly a bit of ambient is added to the mix, while the following 'Exuberance' is an amazing fusion of jazz and experimental music. Here, the guitar work of Gerry Nestler reminds me of guitarist Buckethead and that track wouldn't look out of place on a Praxis or Naked City album. It impresses me how easily PHILM manage to switch between different genres and atmospheres without sounding forced.
'Amoniac' surprises with funk influences, but here too it's just a small module, while 'Dome' is a return to the inital aggressivness. What I also like very much is the rough and straight sound of this album and I'm pretty sure that everything has been recorded live in the studio without any overdubs. It would have been nice if PHILM had included more jazz, because these are the moments where these cats really shine. Just listen to 'Killion' and 'Mezzanine' and probably you understand what I mean. So, if you want to be challenged, or want something a little different, take the plunge. 'Harmonic' is one of those albums that you rediscover with every listen. As I said, this isn't for everyone, but open-minded music lovers will appreciate it.