Album of the Day: The Physics House Band, “Death Sequence”

The new EP by British quartet The Physics House Band lasts less than 17 minutes, but it feels like an eternity—or at the very least, like listening to a bunch of albums at once. Consider the first five minutes of opening track “Death Sequence i.” The band shift from rising prog rock to cinematic guitar meditation, and then from mathed-out metal riffage to nearly symphonic bombast. They pull off these pivots with the muscular prowess and skillful precision of lab-tested scientists. To say they make every second count is an understatement.

But the key to the Death Sequence’s success isn’t a matter of instrumental or compositional chops, or even succinctness. Rather, the Physics House Band manage to cram it all into songs that actually flow. Even their biggest stylistic jumps feel like logical steps in an ascendant journey, particularly on standouts like “Death Sequence iii”: a dreamscape of starry keyboards meshing around the wry spoken word of comedian/writer Stewart Lee, who has described the group as “a Yes or a Rush, but stripped of any errors of taste and judgment.”

Such telekinetic gelling doesn’t mean Physics House Band are afraid to be abrupt, mind you. The EP’s final track, “???,” ends with a hard cut after less than two minutes of grinding, like the cops showed up to the studio and suddenly pulled the plug. And yet, despite these dizzying turns and surprising musical tricks, Death Sequence never loses its footing. It’s a testament to just how well these four minds sync.

-Marc Masters

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