PAULSON: Variations: CD

Initial’s normal year offers about one decent release—this year offers two with the forthcoming Guilt collection and Black Cross’ Widows Bloody Widows compilation. Paulson thus presents an interesting problem because, while it’s better than normal Initial fare like the Harkonen release which came out earlier this year and the Ultimate Fakebook record which was really completely unnecessary, it isn’t even close to the awe-inspiring sonic brutality of Black Cross. Paulson veers between skittering drumbeats which wouldn’t sound out of place on a jazzy jungle 12”, moody keyboard-driven atmospheric music which cribs from Three Mile Pilot / Black Heart Procession and unusual electronic effects which fill in the gaps between post-core riffing and attempts at more experimental fare. Ultimately, this record sounds like it was made by a band that had too many musical and stylistic ideas to blend and wanted to try to do too many different and irreconcilable things at the same time. While this is a criticism of sorts, it is—at worst—a gentle one because at least Paulson is attempting to do something that is creative, somewhat innovative, and unexpected. That is something to be praised, not scolded, particularly considering how many bands seem to take the easy, three-chord path out of the muse’s woods.

 –scott (Initial)