Firefly Music 2010 / Esoteric 2014
Sometimes second albums aren’t difficult: Welsh band’s sophomore outing takes them to a higher orbit and finds them land on their true identity.
Here’s an ensemble whose journey has been very much unpredictable weaving in and out of progressive domain ever since the band’s core left KARNATAKA and launched a mission of their own. Lauded as 2008’s “Visionary Position” was, that record couldn’t prepare the listeners for “Satellite” which didn’t burden itself with notions of genre in order to focus instead on arresting melodies and not shy away from forays into a pop territory. So while its vibrant title track, stricken with a bass solo, and the insistently swaying pulse of “Dark Star” are spacious propositions, they explore different spaces – external and internal, and that’s the axis all of it spins on.
There’s a riff-riding scream in “Freedom To Breathe” that would take such an intimacy-blowing insistent swipe to another extreme on the group’s next record, "Skin", yet this album bears no sign of claustrophobia. Here, the desperation that fills “The Fall” before the ballad’s beauty floats into one’s heart on a guitar lace and jazzy organ undertow, but still the quest for belonging leaves room for independence. That’s why Anne-Marie Helder, alluringly aggressive in the heavy “Black Noise” with its cosmic funk, wraps “I Am A Cat” in an elegant purr as Paul Davies turns a vaudeville swirl into a sharp six-string shape and Jonathan Edwards’ keyboards run from a gothic roar to baroque roll. And that’s why “Into The Fire” grows in scope from a glimmering delicacy to an acoustically-tinctured attack, as if to provide a template for 2014’s "Incarnate".
This reissue is expanded with the “Little Satellite” EP on a DVD, extending the album’s reach with four more songs and the record’s promo video, which makes it an ultimate release and a milestone in PANIC ROOM’s journey.