Published Sep 09, 2016Pharaon are a French Canadian psych-space-jam band — or, at least, they sound like a jam band. The first track on their self-titled debut is 19 minutes long, and frustratingly, it just sort of meanders through a few different riffs and grooves without settling in anywhere or building to anything significant.
It opens with a droning synth pad, and clicking noises scurrying past. A loping, ritualistic-sounding drum groove emerges, and about the time most pop songs are over we are finally treated to a pretty heavy psychedelic guitar groove. By the sixth minute, we're somewhere between an extended Pink Floyd jam and Godspeed You! Black Emperor's atmosphere, but Pharaon lack the building ferocity of Godspeed, or the talented songwriting of Pink Floyd. Without these ingredients their indulgent trippiness seems a bit bland, and borderline annoying.
The back half of the record is a bit more measured and deliberate, with two tracks half the length of the first. "Labyrinthe" starts with another sort of spacey jam for the first three minutes, but then the full band enters dramatically, settling into another Pink Floyd-esque groove. Echoes of flute and guitar swirl while drums lead the band in rising intensity until, by 8:30, it's a total jammy freak-out.
The last song opens with some neat post-rock guitar, but with a funkier groove from the drums and bass. It's hard not to think that, had they opened with this (the strongest of the three tracks), listeners might be more amenable to their 19-minute track.
Pharaon is messy, but shows potential for the band's future. (Jeunesse Cosmique)