The Phantom Band – Fears Trending (4 stars)

The Phantom Band - Fears Trending

Hot on the heels of 2014's Strange Friend comes a cyberspace tackling companion

(Chemikal Underground)

Like the audio equivalent of that 'all the buses coming at once' cliché, (admittedly heavily paraphrased here) the Phantom Band have simultaneously rewarded the patience of faithful followers and curious new fans alike with the release of two brand new records this year after a significant absence.

The second of which, Fears Trending, is cut from pretty much the same cloth as the earlier Strange Friend; coming from essentially the same sessions and both sharing themes in their artwork.

Opener ‘Tender Castle’ teases with it's cosmic, pulsing synths, before it unfurls like a flower; but the kind of flower that would make you trip balls if you ate it – and it's on the lapels of a mad man.

The serious tight-knit grooves of the front-end dissolve into a casual, open-ended hippy blow-out, drifting wildly into the ether before the genuine oddness of ‘Local Zero's squelching plod leads us down another rabbit hole.

‘Denise Hopper’ on the other hand is about as close to the dancefloor as the Phantoms get here, with the twin squalls of riff and synth cascading over each other generously; billowing out like silken smoke signals over sputtering percussion as an increasingly dirtier sound emerges, all weighed down by tasteful tumbling disco.

Even at this point it becomes apparent that these seven tracks are crafted to flow together with great ease; seamlessly rippling between a variety of different tempo changes, moods and atmospheres, yet feeling unified almost as one piece.

‘Black Tape’, along with ‘The Kingfisher’ and closer, ‘Olden Golden’, represent the more measured and comparatively more languid side of the record - and the band itself - with the former in particular sitting atop an explorative drone and vibing out on hypnotic waves of ominous chants and spectral electronic textures. Something the band do particularly well.

While, with songs like ‘Spectrelegs’ they also show off their ability to crank out pieces of a much more immediate nature, the charm ultimately lies heaviest in their ability to hypnotise and one's inability to resist getting lost in it all. The only flaw would be the times where it sounds much more 'real' and gritty, like a live show when you want it to dwell in its cosmic tendencies rather than come back down to earth. But it's a solid experience nonetheless.

Fears Trending is released on Chemikal Underground 26 Jan.

The Phantom Band

Glasgow's compelling Krautfolk ensemble.

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