Palms Palms

Ten years ago, a collaboration like this would have implied something more manic or elephantine. Now, with Isis's final two efforts being a hair's breadth away from post-Tool mediocrity and Deftones treading water with palatable, yet predictable placeholder releases, the prospect of Chino Moreno fronting three fifths of the former group elicits a more tempered, cautious optimism. While straying very little from the decidedly grown-up, Palms' self-titled debut offers more than enough buttery atmosphere to satisfy fans of either project. Stripping down the prog and hooks, Palms largely rely upon languishing art rock with moderately drawn-out track lengths and deceptively simple structures. The lilting, affectionate mood pieces they've constructed use distortion as window-dressing only, providing a warm foundation for Moreno to wax free-associative in typically wistful fashion. Harsh vocals are nowhere to be found and the sludge trappings that helped anchor the Isis sound are all but completely excised. At times, this meeting of minds knocks its own potential out of the park, such as during the nuanced jangle of opener "Future Warrior" or the hypnotic climax of "Antarctic Handshake." At others, one can't help but wish for a little more "oomph," but it only takes a few spins to detach oneself from the hype and respect the admirable groundwork laid down here for future greatness. (Ipecac)