Review: Photokem, Half Ton Pet

Layered experimental rock EP swells to quizzical excitement


Like the expectant sound of a symphony tuning up, the layered experimental rock of Photokem again and again swells to quizzical excitement. Bottle rocket whirs, acoustic guitar, and isolated orchestral instruments shoot off around the deliciously unhurried, Dean Blunt-deep vocals of Nana Acheampong on the quartet’s Half Ton Pet. He moves all over, flexing from spoken repetitions (“no cover, no coat”) to pitched-up singing. Alongside Evan Ryckebusch on cello and Jack Kelly on synth, band member Nico Fennell leans into his textural, improvisational producer aspirations – inspired by Ryuichi Sakamoto’s compositions, and sampling Ghanaian gospel singer Cecilia Marfo (“Shalom, Peace”). Going global, piano-led rush “Yugoslavia for Business” lists countries in what could be admiration or inside joking, delivered without a hint of irony. Decentered from the rock base of 2022 EP Luffon Bright, these four songs feel more sketchlike, and certainly transitive. The now-New-York-based band keeps local ties through arrangements by Font/stunts’ Anthony Laurence, flittering woodwinds by Felt Out’s Walter Nichols, mastering by Will Clark, and emails by new Mallard PR. With an EP bio funnily stating that the recent UT-Austin grads are now employed, Half Ton Pet captures the time prior, when they were figuring out what’s next.

Photokem

Half Ton Pet

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