Picastro – You (Function Records)

Picastro – You (Function Records)

Were this record to be a film, the board of classification would no doubt slap an 18 certificate all over it. The aural equivalent of some psychological horror movie, Picastro’s fifth album proper is not for the faint of heart. It is raw, intense and shadowed with the greatest sense of foreboding. As the music burrows deep into your brain, listening to You becomes an experience just as unsettling as it is profound.

Sixteen years into their evolution and across many personnel changes, Picastro may now exist as three but they still remain fundamentally the same. Picastro today is the singer of ruinous love songs and player of guitar, Liz Hysen and her fellow Canadians, composer and cellist Nick Storring and drummer of drums Brandon Valdivia. Together they create that perennial Picastro sound; no matter how much it evolves it is surely pre-determined that it will always be the same. It is dark, demanding and disconcerting. It is neo-noir folk music, performed as a singularly scary narrative in which you can somehow find a strange solace.

Across ten tracks You’s heart bleeds into the record’s grooves. As if setting down a marker for the rest of the album and with its creeping despondency and impending danger, opening song ‘Mountain Relief’ provides anything but. In ‘Two Women’ voices are disembodied, whilst the stark desolation of ‘Endlessly’ haemorrhages into the empty chambers of ‘Vampires’ as the sonic pendulum swings across a pit between what might be the Third Ear Band’s Music From Macbeth and Espers. ‘That’s It’ assumes the position of some macabre madrigal and when set against the B-picture aesthetic of the rest of the album the penultimate ‘Baron in the Trees’ is unusually epic.

Just like The Blair Witch Project before it, You becomes a fertile product of your imagination. Spartan, sparse and bleak, the record is another prime example of how to create something really quite monumental out of what is really very little.  Occasionally perplexing and deeply uncomfortable, You is a minor low-budget classic providing the perfect antidote to easy listening.

Rating: ★★★★☆

You is released on 10th February through Function Records.


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