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Album Review: Cathode Ray Eyes, Eyes In the Melancholy Palm

Cathode Ray Eyes, Eyes In the Melancholy Palm (Cardinal Fuzz (UK); Captcha Records (US))

Dread.  The itchy, claustrophobic feeling of something terrible imminent; close; around the next corner.  It can be as universal as the looming spectre of time or as specific as a stalker.

Dread hangs heavy over Eyes In the Melancholy Palm by Cathode Ray Eyes, the one-man side project of Ryan Delgaudio from The Cult of Dom Keller (a Nottingham-based band I was not familiar with but, having listened to this album, am anxious to listen to).  Within, we have tales of grim reapers, dead whores, “drowning rats”, worlds on fire and places with “no beginning, middle or end”. Much like the dread in stories like Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness, it is palpable but never quite comes into full focus – a slow-burn stressor, without resolution.  Is the evil real, or are we witness to the waking, post-traumatic nightmares of the protagonist?

Despite the Celtic Frost-summoning title, Eyes In the Melancholy Palm is psych rock par excellance.  Heavily distorted vocals leer from behind a gauzy curtain of drone-laden, looped guitars; narcotic splinters of gothic, ambient waves underneath:  Joy Division scoring 28 Days Later.  Expected reference points like Brian Jonestown Massacre and the darker side of Thirteenth Floor Elevators share time with The Cramps, Clinic, Spacemen 3, The Cure (I kept hearing shades of songs like “The Snakepit” and “Like Cocaktoos”), even Fad Gadget’s death disco.

While heavy (both metaphorically and literally), there are moments of bliss throughout – the resolution around the 2:40 mark of “Goodbye to Wonder”, the surf-reverb on “Drowning Rats” – finding another (friendly?) human face amidst the ruins.  It is also a rare record that actually get better, more fulfilling, as it slides along – the second half trilogy of “Goodbye To Wonder”, “1,000 Suns” and Wire-laden closer “Where There Is No Beginning, Middle or End” the most affecting on the record.  “Get me out of here/before I lose control” a most fitting lyrical coda to this collection.

Eyes In the Melancholy Palm is out June 1 on Cardinal Fuzz (UK) and Captcha Records (US).  Check out the band on their (his) Facebook page.  [Update:  the good folks at Cardinal Fuzz tell me the album is available starting tomorrow (May 20).]

Highlights include:  “1,000 Suns”, “Goodbye to Wonder”, “I Woke Up This Morning and the World Was on Fire”, “The Unsuccessful Resurrection of James Dean”.