Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Purkinje Shift returns with 'Executive Contours'

Posted By on Wed, Dec 5, 2012 at 12:57 PM

After retiring the name about 10 years, the Purkinje Shift reconvened with its original lineup - guitarists Ben Davis and Gary Flom and drummer Scott Robbins - in December of 2009 to play a memorial show at Eyedrum following the death of their friend and former CL writer Thomas Peake. It was only supposed to be a one-off reunion, but the energy they put on display that night clearly indicated that there was still something unrequited percolating within the group after all these years. Robbins, however, lives in Seattle, so a full-on reunion wasn't in the cards. But soon after that Eyedrum show, drummer Lee Corum approached Flom and Davis to suggest that the Purkinje Shift give it another go, this time with him playing drums. They picked out a few older numbers to learn, and have carried on over the last year and a half. The arrival of a brand-new six-song EP, Executive Contours, released via Samizdat, is the first substantial look at what is essentially a new group built upon the history and the chemistry that Flom and Davis set into motion during the late 1990s.

To be fair, Corum hits the drums just as hard as Robbins used to - maybe even a little harder sometimes. But changing the dynamic of a trio by one member is a pretty big refit. Corum's drumming style isn't quite as angular as what Robbins brought to the fold. As a result, Executive Contours, reestablishes the Purkinje Shifts' place as Atlanta's quintessential math rock innovators, but with a turn toward a more groove-driven sound. New songs such as "Shake Hands With Danger," "Easy Mark, Sucker," and "Florida Water" seem hell-bent on shedding any and all clinical connotations that come along with being pegged a math rock group, instead, striving for a more organic feel. The guitar sounds are dirty, abrasive, and tethered to each other by unseen melodic attractors. But most of all, Corum's drums foster a spacious sound that allows the group to breathe, all the while stepping outside the expectations that Flom and Davis established for themselves a lifetime ago via Nickel Waves and Carbon Stars (1998), Five For The Road and One For The Ditch (1999), et al.

Executive Contours is vital, and to a degree even transcends Flom and Davis' collaborative efforts over the years in such interim groups as Moreland Audio and Home of he Wildcats - the latter of which also featured Corum on drums. This configuration is not new, but the context is different - it's still muscular, although not as strict in its design as one could expect, and that's a good thing. All three of these guys have grown as musicians, and as human beings, and that's reflected in this new excursion.

The Purkinje Shift, Skin Jobs, and Moonbase play 529 on Friday, December 7. $5. 9 p.m. 529 Flat Shoals Ave. 404-228-6769.

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