“I don’t really want to get up today, I would rather waste away, or could I really find a new way to say ‘Hallelujah, I’ve gone blind!'” The opening line of ‘Question Song’ is also the opening line of the entire album, ‘Window Rock’, from Particle Kid.
The latest project from Micah Nelson, (Particle Kid) is an album that makes no secret of the search. Here is an artist that rolls up his sleeves, opens his ribs, and almost entirely drops old and familiar habits in hopes of finding a new northern star. In a world that appears morally bankrupt, spiritually dislocated and in pain, how do we find meaningful connection, substantial gain?
Nelson tackles issues with an earnestness, almost devoid of fashionable self-reference. Wait, that’s not to say the artist avoids singing of his issues – he sings in first person perspective, addressing his real life and his real aspirations. However, he avoids the traps of clever-cleverness that this kind of inquiry can sometimes produce. When he lands on a certain, solid substance, he celebrates and then he proposes other solutions. Learning, it seems, is everything. Particle Kid makes no claim to know it all, he does appear the value of leaving with more questions than answers.
Across these nine tracks Particle Kid addresses moral ambiguities, ethical corrosion, and the concerns of cultural life. Tracks like ‘Magic Mirror’ and ‘Stroboscopic Light’ are explicit descriptions of our limited perception, or heightened awareness of how things appear at certain times in life when trying to reach out and forge connection.
Cascading visions of characters shows where Nelson’s empathies lie. It is with the disenfranchised and dismantled that Particle Kid hopes to connect, and represent. ‘I’ve seen good people get buried alive, The Pregnant woman working 9-5“ lends evidence to his scream-sung “Everyone you know is a daughter or a son…”. It’s the recognition of humanity, and the acknowledgement of universal vulnerability that’s so refreshing. ‘Magic Mirror’ has some of the most effective, and affective lyrical content in this sequence. It also represents one of Nelson’s finest vocal flows on any record. It’s fucking nice when you turn it loud.
Production, and musicianship deliver the kind of competence that’s heightened when an artist finds the confidence to remove elements, and undress everything to achieve simplicity. Window Rock may well capture the strongest sense of how Particle Kid music feels out in the wild. The spontaneity and space of each track is preserved, not punished into shape. Guitar work brings most of the snagging hooks. Did Nelson disappear into the desert to learn the secrets of the kaleidoscopic earworm? Progress can be described as rock, but the soft elements, the intentionally uncertain treatment of pedals and grainy distortions lend a folksy psychedelia.
If “Question Song” – opening the album, appeared to be overloaded with doubt and negatives, closing track “Still Going” underlines the importance of persistence, if not optimism. The track achieves perspective in a process where everything comes, goes, begins, and ends. It’s a wise conclusion that captures the spirit of the entire album, by alluding to the question of ‘what’s next?’. Genius.
Currently on tour Particle Kid will be playing a number of dates with The Flaming Lips and The Claypool Lennon Delirium.
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HURRY – BUY – PARTICLE KID MUSIC