To start an album with a slow burn is a risky move. Many bands might want to grab the attention of the listener straight away, with a primal scream, a kickstart, a rocket being launched. pg.lost take a chance that pays off when Oscillate, the title track of this new album of theirs, drifts in on a bank of moody synthesisers, slowly building for a full three minutes, before they let the drummer out of his cage to knock fuck out of his toms, before they kick it up another gear for the final few minutes. You know instantly that you’re in for an album that’s going to be heavy on build ups, and possibly trying on the nerves.
Throughout proceedings, those synths hover somewhere between Jean Michelle Jarre and 80s electronica, doing battle with the omnipresent reverb laden guitars. This is very much the core of the pg.lost sound, the brains of the machine. The rhythm section, thankfully, adds some much needed brawn and often drives the heavy parts of the band’s music close to metal in spirit, if not in sound. pg.lost might be convenient to tag as ‘post-rock’ but really, that feels like a grossly unfair dismissal of a band whose ambitions feel a little more cinematic. There’s a sheen, and iciness, that suggest a lot of Oscillate would work brilliantly scoring some Nordic crime drama on Sky One, or the like. Close your eyes and you can almost imagine one of the Skarsgård family as a disillusioned cop, driving through the snowy night to rescue the missing child of an international diplomat, while simultaneously trying to come to terms with the unexplained death of his substance abusing former partner. Or something.
Where Oscillate may be strong on mood, it does fall down on imagination, with a lot of the songs building on a similar ‘quiet/loud/louder/quiet’ structure that does grow slightly tedious after a while. When it works best, as on Shelter, the point where they reach the climax really does pack a powerful punch. E22 is a fine example of the band at their best as they weave from an almost shoegaze guitar intro, through pulsing synth undertones, into a soaring valley of (admittedly slightly Eurovision sounding) vocalisation, before they hit the home stretch with a battering that their countrymen in Switchblade could have produced. On paper that sounds all over the place, but there’s a real skill at work in blending those elements into a coherent song. And there’s a little dirt in there under those perfectly trimmed fingernails, dirt that perhaps might enhance their sound were they to let it seep out a little more.
synths hover somewhere between Jean Michelle Jarre and 80s electronica, doing battle with the omnipresent reverb laden guitars…
Other points seem a little too incidental, and if not throwaway, then somewhat bland perhaps. Mindtrip, in contrast to its title, seems less like the psychedelic blow out you’d like it to be, and more like gentle instrumental stadium rock. Suffering is similarly vanilla. Overall, while well constructed and full of hooks, there’s a sense that some of the music is more unintrusive than the immersive experience you’d care for it to be. They’re clearly capable of a more freewheeling musical expression, but much of the time it all feels a little polite.
Interestingly though, for the two closing tracks, Eraser and The Headless Man, the band seem to shake off their inhibitions and dive a little further into the pool of inspiration for two of their most engaging moments. The former, again, showcases their ability to launch off road from an almost pop sensibility, into more progressive and if not quite abrasive, then at least rowdier territory, being one of the more adventurous pieces here. The Headless Man works on the other extreme, taking their more melodic and triumphant tendencies to their logical conclusion, in a way that might make you want to wave a lighter in the air.
Ultimately if you crave intelligently written instrumental rock with airy and epic tendencies, but without too much pomposity Oscillate won’t see you wrong as pg.lost have enough textural diversity to satisfy a wide taste. If your tastes veer towards the grittier end of the instrumental spectrum, perhaps this isn’t the album for you. A pleasant and solidly crafted piece of work, but a bit more fire to melt the more glacial tendencies might be nice in future.
Scribed by: Jamie Grimes