Phantom Chemistry seems an apt name for this Syracuse band.
Founded in 2008, the bands members; Mike Burriesci (vocals, guitar, keyboard), John Ocasio (guitar and keyboard), Teddy Bratt (guitar and keyboard), Zack Parsell (bass, who took over for Dillon Cook who played bass for the recording of Whiskey Slurs) and P.J. Sweeney (drums) look like they could be some random college students from a Chem 101 class, but in recording their third release Whiskey Slurs, they perform musical alchemy.
Together, their separate elements fuse and react into a combustible intensity that makes the listener’s inner mad scientist cackle with a frantic cry: “It’s alive…It’s ALIVE!!!!!”
The album was recorded over the past year by front man Burriesci in his self- built basement studio, Chemical Swirl Studio, and then mastered by Steve Sopchak at The Square Studio. “In the beginning, I spent a lot of time isolated in my house with an acoustic guitar and a piano. I had recently picked up the piano so I spent a lot of time sitting at it every day.” Burriesci remarked.
Of the recording process, Burriesci says this is the first time he had really planned out all the songs and the band carefully configured the balance of their collaboration before recording it.
“Wolves” was the first track to come together. I went to my friend’s wedding the night before and I was feeling sentimental. I spent a lot of time putting together chord structures and recording videos of myself playing them on my phone. I wanted to establish what I was playing and singing on each song before I started the recording process. This is the first album we planned everything out ahead of time, before we would just start recording parts and see where it went. I’d presented each song to my bandmates when I knew what my parts were going to be and we’d figure out what everyone else should be doing.”
This approach of careful planning and experimenting before recording the finalized versions can be heard in well balanced and constructed songs. Clearly heard are the influences of the rock/electronic foundations by such bands like Joy Division and their later incarnation New Order, Radiohead, Modest Mouse and The Flaming Lips.
In the skilled hands of Phantom Chemistry’s members, the songs they have created take structural suggestions from the bands they admire and hybridized them into their own unique elements of hard to resist magnetic energy.
Inspiration for the album’s title, Whiskey Slurs, came from Burriesci: “I was drinking a lot of whiskey throughout the song writing process.”This created a theme the label describes as a, “down-but-not-out sentiment” that takes us on a journey of rowdy guitars riffs (“Too Good to Be True”, “Good Dogs”), engaging melodic hooks (“Another Bird”), surprising harmonies (featuring Kristin Turo on “Addicted”), and even an acoustic genre hopping catalyst (“Wolves”), that is well worth the sonic trip.
To celebrate the release of their new album, Phantom Chemistry will be performing at The Westcott Theater on Friday, December 19, 2014. Doors open at 8pm, tickets are $10 and can be purchased HERE or at the door.
Also available, on the night of the release party only, is a very limited number of EPs of acoustic versions of 6 of the songs from Whiskey Slurs.
There is an old science joke that says, ‘Technically…alcohol is a solution…”. In that vein, so is Phantom Chemistry’s Whiskey Slurs. It’s an intense and intoxicating catharsis to post-modern angst in a mundane world.
The album was released on December 16, 2014 by bettyElm Records and the CD will be available for purchase along with multiple download options at http://phantomchemistry.bettyelmrecords.com/shop/.
Find the band on FACEBOOK
Micha L. Crook covers local music, events and culture throughout the CNY region. She is also the good twin and arch-nemisis of Mitzi Schadenfreude. Find her on twitter @MissMichaC