Negative Pegasus - Looming
Brighton based three-piece Negative Pegasus describe themselves as 'hard psych', and on first listen they seem pretty straightforwardly brutal. Released on Smalltown America, debut album Looming is full of meaty riffs that swell up your speakers and loop round continuously, beating you into submission with its own brand of doom laden rock. However, dig a little deeper and you find an album that is simultaneously brash and repetitive yet subtle and unpredictable.
Opening song 'How it Happens' begins with the band charging their instruments to an unrelenting electronic fuzz beat that creaks under the pressure as war drums pound the entrance of gritty warehouse vocals, tinged with an Ian Curtis detachment. These soon evolve however, into the unintelligible cries for help amidst the chaos of 'Ottoman Silver'. Opening with a more bouncy funk rhythm and going on to reveal some shoegaze tendencies, this track reveals a lot of heart amongst the darkness-and this is what makes Negative Pegasus stand out. So often on the album melodies are buried deep beneath noise and have to be unearthed, but when they are they reveal a surprisingly emotive side. This is especially true on album closer 'Visitation' that seems to articulate in a brilliantly inarticulate way some kind of euphoric release. Again the vocals are pretty unintelligible but sometimes you don't need to hear the lyrics to understand what's going on, and there is a sense throughout the album (which by the way was recorded in the space of just seventeen hours) that spontaneous and visceral is far better at getting the point across than eloquent and articulate. That being said the instrumental 'A Single Fuck' is contemplative and brooding, carving out a perverse soundscape twisted and warped with distortion and pedals.
Given the sheer volume and weight of tracks like 'Floating Omen' and 'Psychic Energy', it's surprising that there is no bass player, the sound achieved instead by the guitar interplay of Todd Jordan and Richard Netley, who seem to butcher their instruments rather than play them, tweaking and manipulating like demented surgeons while steady drum beats pound away and drown your consciousness. Conversely on tracks like 'Soaker' the subtlest scratch or slip of the finger against guitar string is fore grounded to great effect and the repetitive nature of the riffs heightens sensitivity to every single deviation. As such the songs develop subtly and there is plenty of room to grow. The band also flirt with quite a few different styles-krautrock, punk, rock, shoegaze, coating whatever they turn their attention to with a characteristic sense of impending danger.
This is a refreshingly rewarding listen, that does far more with the genre than most, following in the footsteps of Oneida, and even the likes of Flats. Negative Pegasus' debut will have you listening again and again. Maybe it's because you'll feel intimidated and forced into submission by their trance inducing fuzz. Maybe it's simply because they're good.