Palm, “Crank”

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Palm, "Crank"

It’s been a busy summer for Hudson, NY’s Palm. It seems as if they have been touring non-stop after the release of Ostrich Vacation, their sound collage for JMC Aggregate‘s Organechs series. Those shows—as challenging as they’ve been numerous—were themselves collage-performances, mining the band’s previous releases (Into the Bulk and Ode to Scott, both from 2013) for sounds and textures. Those recombinant songs, however, have become increasingly unmoored from Palm’s discography. Addressing this, the band has released “Crank” as the latest single exploring the boundary between music and noise from Trading Basics, their upcoming debut full-length.

“Crank” opens deceptively, with a kick drum-backed bassline resembling a steady heartbeat. After that, metaphor ceases to apply. Inverting the usual rock paradigm, Eve Alpert’s lead vocals carry a steady rhythm while Hugo Stanley’s polyrhythmic drumming (recalling his work in Big Neck Police) alternately weaves together with and pulls apart from Kasra Kurt’s percussive guitar and Gerry Livitanos’ bassline around her. Approaching its end, “Crank” breaks down into the noise that always already threatens its foundations. Screaming guitar, crashing cymbals, unpredictable bass—were they not recorded, seeing them as part of “Crank” proper would be difficult.

To disregard them, though, is to misunderstand Palm. They tag themselves on Bandcamp, after all, not only as “rock” but as “noises.” That Palm released “Crank” as a song allows us to make sense of those noises, a careful listen reveals that the band’s command of their tonal palette positions the track at the border between music and noise, showing its sonic superstructure and opening it to re-interpretation. Alpert’s repeated line, then, is advice to both her listeners and to her band: “Take it as you will.”

“Crank” is streaming below. It’s the lead single from Trading Basics, due November 6th from Inflated Records on vinyl and Exploding in Sound on cassette. Figure 8 Studios’ Eli Crews and Big Neck Police’s Paco Cathcart (who also appears on the album) recorded and mixed.