Sightings CD reviewed by Luc Rodgers

Music Reviews
Sightings CD reviewed by Luc Rodgers
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Oct 10, 2007, 17:35

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SIGHTINGS Through the Panama CD

NYC noise mongers Sightings work with the typical rock setup—drums, bass, guitar, and vocals—but have created some of the least rock-oriented sounds in their ten-year existence. Their new release, Through the Panama, tiptoes closer to the “written song,” but when it is a cacophonous swirl banging up your innards you simply can't force yourself to write something too far off.

The intense feedback opener “The Rest” puts you in the face of the speaker. Remember watching the cone violently move in and out, doing its damnedest to replicate the horrible things happening to the guitar and amp? It shakes the walls, blows wind in the face, and sounds like nothing and everything. Yes, it is delicious. The power one wields with simple positioning and volume. Jonathan Lockie's fundamental rhythms match the spoken words nicely (with that intense distortion one just expects everything to reverberate with it) and when the solo rides over the top, everything seems to make sense together. “Debt Depths” follows and sounds like an alternate ending to “The Rest,” though the quieter section with the wet fast food straw groaning reminds the listener of something between a Liars song and a John Vanderslice remix. Richard Hoffman's dangerously loose, banging bass strings of “Cloven Hoof” sails through into the special piece, “The Electrician.”

Originally released by the Walker Brothers in 1978, “The Electrician” features the magical digit stylings of Matt Sweeney (Chavez, Superwolf, Guided by Voices, among countless producer/engineer/special guest appearances over the years) and it is here that the first “song” is heard. Morgan voices a melody (!) while the bass plucks slow and electric angels scream high above. The realization of their songwriting begins to make perfect sense—something cohesive and listenable is written and then they attempt to erase all familiarity, leaving a single, shivering skeleton of a song. When they let the noise dwindle a bit, the vocals permit a hint of sorrow and space. With everything else blended together, it is a welcome change and also surprising sensing his comfort in such a stripped down piece.

“This Most Real of Hells” will just scare you. Even as the vocals push to the front of the mix, very few words are actually decipherable. When the shrieking arrives is when most people will, unfortunately, leave the room. The sheer terror of it is discomforting, more than any other sound on the record, and should be celebrated as such. Sneak it onto a PA system just to see what happens.

“Perforated,” “Certificate of No Effect,” and the following title track will play without any heads turning. Yes, there is the screeching feedback and all kinds of enjoyable little noises, but it is the same that have dominated the album up to this point. It is not until the tapping, aquatic “Degraded Hours” that the brain awakes and enjoys the smooth pulses banging around the room. Here again we find them in a quiet room with a quiet idea and it is here where one can understand it. As it dwindles down to a short a cappella, the nudity of it is completely alluring. The instruments slowly creep back in and a singular moment for Sightings is caught on tape. “Black Peter” finishes with an undemanding, distorted beat that is agreeable, but quickly aged.

The cleaner sound is the work of party boy Andrew WK behind the board, who is no stranger to noise himself (he is a prominent member of avant-garde group To Live and Shave in LA). Even so, a lot of people will be lost, but no matter. This record is not for them. It can be summed up in an interview with Morgan: “…there is someone who is close to the band that asked when we we're going to quit our day jobs. Uhhhhh…” It is honest, noisy music by honest, noisy people. Sometimes you just have to get it out. [Load]

-Luc Rodgers

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