PSDSP's "Shoulder" Delivers Heady Brew of Avant Grunge

OWL MOUNTAIN SESSIONS 008 presents a heavy, heady brew of avant-grunge à la the Bay Area's cult darling Physical Suicide Deterrent System Project. While the Marin trio's sound frequently references the gnarly thrashing riffs of raw '90s grunge (think Nirvana, Soundgarden), the band is never content to simply rehash or mimic. Keen on innovation and surprise, PSDSP goes about their head banging in refreshingly artful, intellectual, rule-breaking fashion. As PSDSP's steadily growing following can confirm, the group never fails to rock it hard or deliver——their live shows stand out as much-anticipated events on already well-populated local music calendars.


Founding band member Eli Carlton-Pearson draws from a diverse wealth of historical musical influences that knows few geographical or temporal limits. His guitar playing and songwriting are often inspired by the life/death cycle within nature and the human psyche. Recurring themes in PSDSP’s songs explore the natural forces of creation, decay, disintegration, and revival. PSDSP's musical interpretations of these are at times vicious, at others nurturing, but are ever in riotous celebration of the intricate, bewildering beauty within even the more painful or somber moments of the universe's inescapable processes.


“Shoulder”, the band’s first release from a forthcoming collection of new singles, is one such piece, an allegorical ode of sorts inspired by the physical and emotional trials Carlton-Pearson experienced when an extended period of brutal tendinitis threatened to take from him his life's greatest passion and means of expression, the guitar. Instead of merely being a violent elegy of the body's betrayal of the soul, however, "Shoulder" reveals itself more as a lyrical meditation that finds the zen within the angst.


"Shoulder"'s opening theme presents an ominously layered soundscape, with serpentine tendrils of guitar uncoiling toward relentless rhythms and crashing cymbals to suggest destructive forces at play. From within its contemplative sinister pulsations emerge metaphorical rays of light and glittering hope, echoes of peace and rebirth providing brief respite from the smoky shadows. Time marches on, however, and the light inevitably gives way as we descend——or ascend, depending on how you choose to look at it——into a mad chaos heralding the return to darkness.


Each leg of the PSDSP tripod is a multi-instrumentalist musical powerhouse, a talented beast in their own right. Eli Carlton-Pearson may occupy much track space with his five guitars plus vocals on "Shoulder", but when one describes PSDSP's sound, it would be inaccurate to refer to either the wicked swagger of Brian Wilkerson's authoritative bass or the complex strata of Michael Pinkham's brilliant drums as mere supporting roles. All three are key to the whole apparatus, playing off of one another as together they weave a sophisticated tapestry of sound.


Well-versed musicality, tightly knit group dynamics, plus strong onstage receptiveness to exchanging energy with the room enables PSDSP to masterfully integrate improvisation into their hard-hitting live repertoire. As a result, no two of their performances are exactly alike. To witness PSDSP live is akin to signing a zero-liability waiver without regard to any of the fine print because you already know full well that anything these guys throw at you will be quality, legit, and live-wire kinetic. 100% authentic, free-range, and bullshit-free.