Ah, “supergroups.” How hit and miss they can be. What’s that old saying? Too many cooks spoil the broth. It can certainly be the case when a team of esteemed musicians from different avenues congregate on the one square for a new band. Often the hype and hyperbole around the project is ultimately its undoing, but refreshingly, this hasn’t quite happened with Palms, the new band from former Isis members Aaron Harris, Jeff Caxide and Clifford Meyer, joined by Deftones’ Chino Moreno on vocals.
In many ways, Palms sounds just as you would imagine. Moreno’s voice-as-an-instrument presence is an otherworldly facet, crafting an ethereal atmosphere, maintaining his ghostly melodic croon throughout the album. Meanwhile, the instrumentation borrows from Isis’ final two albums Wavering Radiant and In The Absence of Truth, specifically those records’ more lighter shades.
Quiescent and hypnotic vibes run throughout this album and the artwork is a near perfect visual accompaniment to the lush sonic landscapes held within. The guitars craft hazy ambience that blossom into rich, dexterous walls of soothing sound and while there’s very little here that you could call riffs, it’s never anything short of invigorating.
The album opens with the serene climes of ‘Future Warrior’, where Palms lay down mesmeric guitars that glimmer on the horizon, and when Chino enters vocally, this record begins to unwind before us in engrossing fashion.
The sprawling ten minute ‘Mission Sunset’ is where this album takes on a whole new life force with brooding passages, before blooming into an Alcest-like wash of ambient guitars that are equally as imposing as they are life-affirming. It’s a common theme of ebullience, without cliché, that runs through this album and each twist and turn is simply stunning and breathtaking. Around halfway through the record, it has become well and truly clear that Palms have exceeded expectations.
‘Tropics’ was the first taste we had of this album and it was certainly a song that bolstered expectations for this self-titled with its serene landscapes, but Palms still have the ability to swell in intensity – just listen to the wavering crescendo of ‘Shortwave Radio’ for proof. However, the band’s aural explorations are mostly that of the tranquil and almost easy listening, occasionally haunted by the band members’ individual heavy tendencies.
Whichever way you cut it though, Palms is a beautiful album first and foremost and one that will certainly appease the tastes of Isis’s final days and Deftones’ more serene areas and especially Chino Moreno’s work with Team Sleep. However, given the side project nature of this band, it’s difficult to predict what the future will hold for Palms beyond the next year or so but what we have now is more than satisfying.
Palms is released June 25th through Ipecac Recordings