Enjoy the Ride
In the realm of “supergroups,” one expects either a battle of egos or a simplicity in approach. Either the individual members try too hard to make sure their parts shine, or they set all that aside and agree to just jam and see what happens. Palms, featuring Chino Moreno from the Deftones and backed by members of ISIS, falls into the latter category.
The six songs on their self-titled debut each have a similar structure: start with a slow, smooth riff, build and build on it to crescendo and then back and forth for about seven or eight minutes. That may sound tedious, but Palms make it work. Opener “Future Warrior” sets the tone with a 5/4 beat that fails to waver or cheapen, respecting both the artists’ right to experiment and the listeners’ desire to be enveloped in sound. For the most part, Moreno keeps his vocals low key, and when he does reach for the screaming register, it’s never quite as violent as the Deftones, and that makes it seem more emotional and effective. On “Shortwave Radio,” you expect him to launch out into a roar, but he never quite does. Doing so would distract from the rest of the song, and he is aware of that.
Musically, Palms feels spontaneous and organic. It’s easy to imagine the rehearsal space, with drummer Aaron Harris starting off with a beat, keyboardist Bryant Clifford Meyer sustaining one chord and then another, and bassist Jeff Caxide developing a line beneath it all. Seven or eight minutes later, they wake from their stupor and try to remember (and replicate) what they just played. The advantage of that approach is that the songs never come off pretentious or arrogant. “Tropic” really goes nowhere, but you hardly notice because you get lost in the dreamy groove. It’s difficult to listen to Palms all the way through without drifting off, but that’s okay because the band likely did the same thing. Sit back and enjoy the trip.