Pseudo/Sentai – Nature's Imagination (Chapter 2)

Although it may not have been optimal to be introduced to this band through a sequel-record (and an EP no less), the second instalment of the “Nature’s Imagination” series says alot about who Pseudo/Sentai are, and what their sound is all about. Although the band’s primary ingredients consist of modern alternative rock and prog, there would be little point in comparing them to Radiohead or Coheed and Cambria. Instead, Pseudo/Sentai have left me in a rare position where I might call their music ‘unique’. Tossing in every style from indie rock and pop to metal, electronic and 8-bit video game music, Pseudo/Sentai’s experimental collage is striking and feels unsettling, in just the sort of way that experimental music should. Although “Nature’s Imagination (Chapter 2)” is sonically interesting as anything I’ve heard this side of Alpha Centauri however, the way they have compiled these ideas is patchy at best. It’s raw, inconsistent, and well worth a listen if you’re looking for something off the beaten path.

At fifteen minutes long, it’s surprising how many ideas and sounds Pseudo/Sentai are able to cover. Each track adopts a new set of styles to work with. “Landmark of Vascular Catastrophe” is an abrasive alt rock soundscape fuelled by math rock riffs, atmospheric ambiance and industrial percussion. By contrast, the second track “Photoperiodism” switches the sound almost entirely, focusing on bright acoustic twang and the sort of warm vocal harmonies you might expect from a cute indie folk group. What’s remarkable is that Pseudo/Sentai are able to reinvent themselves with each track. For further proof; the third track “Oil Hurricane” inducts extreme metal rhythms into the 8-bit ‘video game’ format. Especially on the first listen, Pseudo/Sentai gets the senses reeling. Considering that none of the tracks here even hit the five minute mark, they spend very little time in each of these worlds they craft. While the brevity keeps the band’s more gimmicky experiments from wearing out, the compositions feel like they have been kept as sketches. Although you’re likely to remember an idea or two from the album, there’s no song in particular that will leave you wanting more. A possible exception to this is the Coheed-esque “Keeper of the Stars” (which bears a conspicuous sonic similarity to Coheed’s “Pearl of the Stars”), where Pseudo/Sentai return to the laid-back acoustic prog of “Photoperiodism” and let their more conventional influences take over.

It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, but “Nature’s Imagination (Chapter 2)” feels completely scattered as an album. There are tossaway ideas meshed in with the excellent ones, although given the ‘everything but the kitchen sink, and then the kitchen sink’ approach these guys take to the music, that should be expected. One thing that seems to bind the album together are remarkably tuneful vocals that fit snugly in with the Claudio Sanchez (of Coheed) and Cedric Zavala (of The Mars Volta). Against a backdrop of sonic chaos, it’s strange to hear vocals that I would have otherwise expected in an indie or alternative rock band, but they work well to give Pseudo/Sentai’s music here a bit of consistency. The only poor exception is where they break the cardinal rule on “Foliage Flower” and break out the autotune, to a less-than-favourable result. Of course, Pseudo/Sentai aren’t a band that’s concerned with perfection. Instead, they give a fifteen minute dose of experimental ideas. Even taking the bad with the good, “Nature’s Imagination” is worth checking out. Love it or hate it, you’ll remember it.


1. Landmark of Vascular Catastrophe (3:29)
2. Photoperiodism (2:51)
3. Oil Hurricane (2:01)
4. Foliage Flower (1:51)
5. Keeper of the Stars (4:51)

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