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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Paatos

Silence of Another Kind

Review by Julie Knispel

Silence of Another Kind is the third album from Sweden’s Paatos (Pathos). Led by Petronella Nettermalm chameleon-esque vocals, which can range from breathy sweetness to bitter disdain, this album shows Paatos at their heaviest. While their debut album Timeloss showed the band in traditional Swedish prog waters (quiet, forlorn and wistful), and Kallocain (produced by Porcupine Tree frontman Steven Wilson) introduced more electronics and loops to their sound, Silence of Another Kind shows the band in much heavier form. However, it still contains the hallmarks of Paatos’ sound: dreamy female vocals, trance/space elements, and an open, eerie production that lends to a disconnected, almost otherworldly listening experience throughout the changing textures and sounds. “Travelling with the Dutch has made Paatos a little bit harder and heavier,” admits guitarist Peter Nylander. “On Kallocain we still explored modern technology and the use of sound loops,” adds Johan Wallèn, keyboardist. “After the tour, we felt the desire to record in a more live setting in the studio. We wrote songs, rehearsed them and afterwards performed the new pieces in our Green Genie studio. In doing so, we often began with improvisations. Oftentimes we composed a song during a three-hour session, and then recorded live drums, bass and keyboards afterwards. This led to a very organic result.” People who were disappointed in the direction Paatos took with Kallocain will find much to rejoice in with their newest album. For new listeners, unfamiliar with Paatos, this album is a great starting point. Listen late at night, with the lights low or off.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Shame
“Shame” opens the album with a surprising bang. A quick rock piece, the lyrics are venomous, decrying political expansionism/imperialism and the methods by which power is taken and brokered by nations and governments. It’s a surprising change of pace for the group, yet it works, and likely will come across well on stage.
Your Misery
“Your Misery” moves back somewhat toward a more traditional Paatos sound, with bubbling rhythms and glistening guitars chiming through a misty soundscape. The feel is shuffling and jazzy, the vocals slightly breathy and cynical. “Who are you to feel lonely...buy yourself a new girl every day.” It’s a song for broken hearts, but not one of sorrow so much as anger.
Falling
Paatos is probably not the best band to listen to when you are depressed. A song of loss and regret, the production is rich without sounding overly full. Petronella Nettermalm’s are in fine form here, while Nylander adds effected guitar, which sounds like weeping. A chorus of backing vocals adds to the dreamlike feel “Falling” creates.
Still Standing
Some of the most evident use of loops and samples is on this track, as the piece opens with layers of heavily effected vocal samples. The pace picks up slightly, but “Still Standing” remains a mid-tempo piece, with wide-open production and lyrics expressing fragility in spite of the more positive sounding title.
Is That All?
Heavy distorted guitar contrasts with traditional Paatos soundscaping and the always present wistful vocals. The heavy sections show just how easily the band has integrated this into their palate of sonic colors, and how well they might handle more of this material in the future.
Procession of Fools
A brief interlude, “Procession of Fools” is an electronic loopy aural palate cleanser setting the stage for the final three album tracks.
There Will Be No Miracles
Finally, Paatos pulls out another straightforward upbeat piece. Opening very plainly with bass, drums, and slightly chopped guitars, the song is far less ornate than any song previous on the album. Petronella Nettermalm’s vocals take on a brighter, more effervescent quality, doubled and with some male vocals underneath (uncredited). This is Paatos in full-on rock band mode, eschewing much of the gloss and dreamlike orchestration and riding the song out in distortion and feedback.
Not A Sound
Here they give us a return to form, with violin and cello adding a more forlorn tone. The longest track on the album at 7:25, this song could easily have been included in a David Lynch or Wim Wenders film soundtrack. The album’s title features in the chorus, while Huxflux Nettermalm adds hand percussion in lieu of drum kit to keep the song drifting along. By the time the full band appears (some five and a half minutes in), the listener has been lulled to relaxation by the mellowness, only to be shocked aware by a return to distorted guitar, excellent drumming, and more present strings.
Silence of Another Kind
The album’s title track continues on from the previous, creating a suite just in excess of 10 minutes. “Silence Of Another Kind” is an instrumental postlude, building layers of feedback, electronic loops, and a single insistent bass drum to a modulated crescendo before ending, with neither a band nor a whimper, but rather a strange electronic theremin-like sound, leaving the listener slightly unsettled...likely just the way the band intended it.
 
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