All songs written by Mark Leahey Jr.
The band on Hyperborean is:
Guitar - Mark Leahey Jr.
Bass - Brian McDermott
Drums - Tim Mansell
Violin - Meg Graham
Modular Synth - Chris L. Ruiz
Guitar - Austin Armijo
Horns - Charles DeMonnin
Recorded at Sprout City Studios, Eugene, Oregon in November of 2016.
Recorded, mixed and mastered by Thaddeus Moore of Sprout City Studios and Liquid Mastering.
A Truer Plane of Being --William Kennedy, Eugene Weekly
In 18th-century poet William Blake’s invented mythology, the character Urizen embodies conventional reason and law, often depicted as a bearded old man carrying nets or architects’ tools. Blake was fascinated by the tension between enlightenment and humanity’s baser instincts — free love, for example — and through Urizen, the poet seems to present societal dictums as a trap or snare preventing humans from reaching their truest plane of existence.
“Urizen” is also a track from Eugene post-rock band Paleons’ latest release, Hyperborean, now out digitally and on CD at House of Records in Eugene. Recorded here at Sprout City Studios, Hyperborean will be released June 25 on vinyl.
Entirely instrumental, the record draws from doom metal, sludge, space rock and psychedelic music, itself an examination of life’s duality — dark and light, reason and emotion, freedom and restraint, with religious and spiritual imagery throughout, such as pansophism, the idea of omniscience or universal knowledge.
Explaining why he writes strictly instrumentals, Paleons bandleader and lead guitarist Mark Leahey says: “It’s easier for me to not have to think in terms of a message and verse/chorus songwriting style. It frees up my compositions to be as recursive, linear, long or short as I want.”
Leahey jokes, “I am a terrible singer and an even worse lyricist.” In addition, he also draws inspiration from sci-fi works like Frank Herbert’s Dune as a well as apocalyptic tales of human survival. “It mostly comes from an interest in esoteric mysticism and the occult.”
Throughout Hyperborean, Leahey’s searing, riff-oriented guitar work loops hypnotically and sometimes soars over a rhythm section and song structures rooted in the post-rock style popularized by bands like Explosions in the Sky or even Eugene’s own This Patch of Sky.
But Leahey says his band is more than just post-rock, citing other influences such as kraut rock and even garage rock and punk. The 12-minute epic “The Circle and Eternity” features some of Hyperborean’s most hot-blooded playing, telling a story in sound complete with a beginning, middle and end.
And elsewhere, such as on tracks like “Sun at The Eastern Gate,” Paleons seem to use free-flowing, almost New Age-inspired violin played expressively by Meg Graham, representing beauty against Leahey’s darker, more mathematical guitar. She is acting as Los, the character Blake conjured representing imagination and pleasure, opposing yet partnered with Urizen’s reasoning intellect.
For centuries, humanity’s greatest writers and thinkers have wrestled with the idea of duality, whether free will leads toward the dark or the light. So it would be unreasonable to expect Paleons to reach conclusions about these questions in one album.
But in asking those questions, Paleons have produced one of Eugene’s most complete and satisfying rock recordings in recent memory.
--Psych Insight Music
Paleons are a band from Eugene, Oregon. What sort of band they are is a more complex question. That is because their dark and intense music exists outside of any particular genre. Regular readers will know that these are the bands that I like the most. The ones that you can’t quite pin down. The ones that plough their own very distinct furrow. The ones that you really have to think about when you listen to them. Paleons are all these things, and then fulfil further criteria of being heavy when they need to be, and pepper their music with melodies and meditative moments that challenge and inspire in equal measure.
As far as I can see ‘Hyperborean’ is Paleons’ third album and, to me, it is the sound of a band that are growing and moving forward. Here Mark Leahey Jr., the band’s founder and songwriter, has found a sweet spot that he has seriously exploited. Opening with ‘Moon Dragon’, a track that owes much of its provenance to post-rock Constellation bands. It has that lovely lilting melancholy to it, the sort of melody that requires no words to express its meaning as it builds towards a dramatic and slightly fractured conclusion.
Suitably settled in ‘The Circle and Eternity’ begins in a similar vein, but it isn’t long before Paleons explode out of this shell scattering sonic shrapnel out through the speakers. Elements of stoner and prog fight for the upper hand as we the listener begin to realise the ambition of this album. There’s heavy riffs pinging about like a wrecking ball in a solid granite pinball machine and then…bang on five minutes in…all hell breaks loose…wow…what a ride. This is a real blockbuster of a track as the rhythm section pounds out the beat and just keeps on changing up through the gears. I’m exhausted and we’re only half way through as the band let go again and again. I want it to stop…I don’t want it to stop…it stops! And that’s the thing, Paleons could have easily ground on to the end, but they come out of hyperdrive, change the whole tone of the proceedings and in the process create something far more interesting, ramping up again without going back to the same place.
Then it’s straight into ‘Wheel of Anguish’ with its solid guitar licks, but with a mariachi trumpet just far enough up in the mix to once again defy expectations, an additional layer which takes this album way above much of the sludgy run of the mill stoner rock. Same with ‘Sun at the Eastern Gate’ with its atmospheric violin arrangement standing out, at once a harking back to some classic Godspeed You! Black Emperor sounds but taking the idea to a different place. Not homage but much more of an interpretation of that sort of intense post rock and, again towards the end, taking the track to a completely different place. This album is so full of ideas…
After that ‘The Tree of Pansophia’ sees the album slowing down and taking stock. Initially, at least, there is more space to the music, a time to reflect and a time to breathe; and while there are moments of greater intensity this seems to be the track that provides a welcome respite from the vigour of this album. Paleons don’t always play fast but they never hang about on one moment. ‘Andromeda, Tomb of the Sun’ is different again with an increasingly fierce repeating beat that at times threatens to tip over the edge as the band thrash out what comes closest to being a psych number. Notice too how the violin is used sparingly but effectively.
With ‘Urizen’ we’re back to the Constellation bands for a freaky intro before heading off into something really folky and almost joyous as the gloom within the track lifts and you get a sense of the flourishing of previously stifled growth. It’s like a celebration at the end of a long quest as the trumpet sears triumphantly through the bucolic sonic patterns. In many ways this feels at odds with the rest of the album, far more open and optimistic…almost anthemic.
It is certainly a real contrast to return to the stoner intensity of ‘Quicksilver Snake’, a slab of solid rock that is as unyielding as it is cogent. A clear and definite end to an album that is full of surprises and one that you’re never quite sure which way Paleons will go next.
I really took to this album on my first listen because I could see that this was something that had been thought through and executed with a laser guided eloquence that marks it out as something both different and interesting. ‘Hyperborean’ is a set of tracks that sing to you even though there is no vocal, and that’s a bit weird because I didn’t really realise that until the end. Sure much of the music I listen to is instrumental but this has something intrinsic within it that gave me the feeling that there was, and each time I’ve listened to it I’ve come away with something quite tangible. That on its own is reason to put it on again.
There’s a very specific cross-section of post-rock, stoner rock and progressive rock in which exist bands like The Samsara Blues Experiment or Tumbleweed Dealer. It’s a section of music which draws on mid-era Pink Floyd for much of its characteristics and overall vibe but further complicates the influence by going deeper, louder and fuzzier on the more “out there” segments while also infusing them with a healthy dose of fuzz. Paleons is a really good example of the type of groovy grandeur the style can accomplish and, this being their third release, have managed to break out of the mold the very specific style commands.
Hyperborean, released in February of this year, marks a great step forward for them. The album’s first pillar for this momentum is the shorter, more groovier tracks like opener “Moon Dragon”. These really on fuzzy guitar leads backed by robust bass, overall drawing the song structure from the more accessible and less cinematic elements of post-rock, like Tumbleweed Dealer mentioned above or In Each Hand A Cutlass. The tracks are varied enough to create a sense of direction and a unique style without shattering too many dimensions of what they’re expected to do.
However, the band also depart from this blueprint several times on the album, in two main ways. The first one involves diving a bit deeper into the doom influences replete throughout the album and blending them with a very space-y and far flung sound. “The Circle and Eternity” which immediately follows the opening track clocks in at more than twelve minutes and contains some of the most impressive moments of the album; its persistent and evocative bass lines and reoccuring themes, given plenty of time to reach fruition throughout its run-time, make it an excellent astral journey.
The other element, the third one if you’re counting, is what ties a bow around the whole thing. The previous two elements cited are excellent but they alone wouldn’t have been enough to life Hyperborean above the masses. What does that is the excellent use of brass instruments and strings, especially near the end of the album. Tracks like “The Tree of Pansophia” or “Andromeda, the Tomb of the Sun” have some really original and well recorded usage of both strings and horns, used both to add an more edge to the composition (in the case of the former) or to evoke longing and sorrow (as in the latter, although the horns near the middle are once again brilliantly used for edge and punch).
These three elements combined set Hyperborean is one of the best releases I’ve had the pleasure of listening to within this sub-genre. Take that together with great track names, compelling cover art and an overall sense of cohesion and purpose and you get yourself one hell of a release, both groovy, evocative and imaginative.
Eugene, Oregon’s PALEONS have always been enigmatic songwriters. Their albums range from sci-fi inspired, proggy space rock to ethereal, atmospheric psychedelia. The new album, ‘Hyperborean’ (2017) is definitely an animal of another kind, though. The layers of complexity and range of tonal pigments Paleons manages here are downright impressive and must have stretched each band member considerably.
Quiet, contemplative themes develop into striking crescendos of color, something that’s immediately apparent in album opener, “Moon Dragon.” The machine-like rhythms of “The Circle and Eternity” felt entirely space-age, and could perhaps work for an alternate soundtrack to those surreal moments in the final act of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Listening to “The Tree of Pansophia,” I feel quite like an astronaut drifting off into the vast reaches of outer (or perhaps inner) space, where all that surrounds me is mysterious and grand in proportions that defy the mind’s ability to comprehend.
I asked the band for insight into the new album. “In Greek mythology, Hyperboreans were people who lived in the far North,” guitarist Mark Leahey tells me. “The sun always shined and they never died. I think I took that idea and it inspired the artwork of the post-apocalyptic Martian explorer princess of the cover. The song titles are her search for esoteric knowledge in a foreign wasteland.”
For me, tracks such as “Andromeda, the Tomb of the Sun,” “Wheel of Anguish,” and “Urizen” embody these concepts completely. They are buyout and teeming with life, a vast ocean of alien creatures.
As I’ve remarked in my reviews of Clouds Taste Satanic, Troll, and other instrumental or quasi-instrumental albums, it’s quite difficult to tells stories without vocals to give us lyrical hints about a song’s direction. Few bands can pull it off convincingly. Paleons, however, really sells us on the idea. Indeed, the human voice might spoil the misty serenity and starlit brilliance of songs like “Quicksilver Snake” and “Sun at the Eastern Gate.”
Looking for points of comparison, I’m drawn to both the space rock tangents of Hawkwind, the psychedelic heaviness of Eternal Riffian, and the post rock sensibilities of Isis, Pelican, and fellow Eugenians, Ninth Moon Black. Yet none of these alone can convey the depth of feeling, breadth of musicianship, and sheer scope of imagination we’re hearing on Hyperborean. Enthusiastically recommended.
Hyperborean is an album by American post rock group Paleons, from Eugene, Oregon. Released on February 3, the full length is fifty one minutes long, and has eight tracks: Moon Dragon, The Circle and Eternity, Wheel of Anguish, Sun at the Eastern Gate, The Tree of Pansophia, Andromeda, the Tomb of the Sun, Urizen and Quicksilver Snake. A modern post rock infused with stoner and psychedelic elements, Hyperborean is an album with vibrating and eccentric melodies, that strongly resembles in some passages the psychedelic rock of the seventies, although the record strongly maintains the quintessential elements of post rock. With an interesting vibe and a formidable display of harmonies, departing from a major convergence of methodically aligned symphonies, Hyperborean is a sonorous lucid dream, painted in the skylight of a surreal soundscape, in a realm configured to vividly feel the soul of an alarming universe, with colliding vicissitudes astoundingly performing in a musical dimension where all sensibilities were sold to a higher and protuberating force of effective musical abilities and original creative devices, so to speak.
With calm, but eviscerating harmonies, Hyperborean is a major work, primarily grounded in a very methodic synergy, that easily foretells the insinuating abilities of a captivating and genuine style, that subtlety inserts on its overall sound dimensions very discreet big band grooves, amalgamating whispering tonalities of sound, that surprisingly eludes to a different universe of ambivalent rejuvenating artistry.
A different record, interesting to hear, Hyperborean is an album full of soul and consistency, that perfectly matches a refined touch of intense sensibility, with a grounded desire for proficient and competent technicality. Beautiful harmonies are a primary characteristic of the album, that standardizes in the horizontal patterns of continuous slow melodies an efficient style, splendidly proverbial, and anatomically dense, that makes the music merge directly into your soul and into your bones, never leaving your senses unnoticed, and aligning your sensitivities to the colorful vibrations of a world unseen.
Hyperborean is a very categorical, intense and creative work, that turns in the headlines of its explicit ordeal the nature of a sonorous anagram, whose marvelous artistry elaborates, note by note, the pragmatic cohesion of a universe never properly understood. A different album, with an original proposal, Hyperborean is a wonderful match of a versatile type of post rock, aligned with more vibrant psychedelic colors and tons, without deviating from its surprisingly well-balanced directive style. With vivacious grooves and a serene antagonistic path towards the spiritual mindfulness of its own essence, Hyperborean is a dream-like album, with a rainbow of stars highlighting the way of its supreme magnificence. In such a way that the listener, one way or another, will be exceedingly astounded, as soon he opens his perceptions to it!
From the Greek music blog translated to English:
About five years ago formed in Oregon are highly talented Paleons, composed by Mark Leahey on guitar, Chris Ruiz on keyboards, the Brian McDermott on bass, the Tim Mansell on drums and Meg Graham violinist who early this month released the new and third in total full length work.
Eight pieces of a total duration of 51 minutes contains about nd why Hyperborean, which is flanked by a dull and very fitting with the air of rock music artwork and distinguished by impeccable production, which by its organic clarity flatter new compositions of exceptional Paleons and generally adventurous sound.
Drips perfume indie and light noise fragrance harmony concealed peaceful post rock timbres of Paleons in their new essay, which fantastically combined with almost imperceptibly stoner nuggets and weak prog style with vibrant krautrock elements, exemplary highlighting the abysmal heavy psych beauty Hyperborean.
Sufficiently heavy riffs sometimes with faint stoner mood, sometimes with indie shades constantly weaves guitar in Hyperborean, which decorates with strong post rock and anemic noise soundscapes thanks to intoxicating the leads and solos, while combined with the fragile violin and mesta keys embellishes with krautrock temperamental space touches the sound of Paleons.
Robust is rugged and soaked with faint fuzz opium bass of Paleons their new album and particularly dynamically their compact drums, which harmoniously sprinkle with groove sparks the exclusively instrumental texture post rock character hearty Hyperborean and thus highlight perfectly the space aura heavy psych status.
Perhaps it is still too early to draw conclusions but I suppose that the ascending our Paleons gave one of the most delightful and beautiful year trays as our heady Hyperborean travels almost unbearable beauty post rock oceans and unparalleled krautrock soundscapes kaleidoscopic heavy psych charm . Spectacular.
This is a translation from Polish website: Masterful Magazine
PALEONS. The American comic of Oregon plays, according to their own description, "Instrumental post rock, noise, krautrock, and psychedelia." This year's "Hyperborean" is their third album.
The description is in a way that is true, but not entirely true - two patches are really enough. Post rock and space rock.
Of course, mixing rock space and rock post is not quite so new, but in this case we are dealing with a very successful, homogeneous mix where both ingredients are sliced into a smooth and tasty mass. Sometimes shifts lean on the advantage of the first, sometimes the second, but the general proproesis is 50:50, which is a very good concept, because the dreamy, rock posters of the GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR or MOGWAI give a huge space, and the harsh, rocking heat of HAWKWIND (Hall of the Mountain Grill) adds a claw and general fuck (here and even punk riffs are here and there). The whole has a good dynamics and beautifully flowing, it happens a lot, but it manages to keep a consistent atmosphere, signaled by the cover: a little nostalgic, a little raised, like an elegy in the extinct space race - but given different means. They are so atmospheric, composed of acoustical landscapes or more psychedelic bulbs made up of difficult to identify sounds, but there is often a mighty, tectonic cleavage with very hawkwind saxophone violinists and fragments of sharp, hardrock heat in the seventies spirit, which who likes. PALEONS in every edition offer a star-studded full of colors to the listener, although - as the cover emphasizes - everything is dimmed, as if some of the colored flecks of the fractal were overlapped with a dark filter that dimmed the whole.
I suspect that their characteristic sound is due to the fact that they have the violin and violin they are doing here as a full instrument, they are not just an add-on, but can be heard everywhere in very different configurations; Sometimes they sound ordinary, classic, and sometimes they are passed through different filters, which sound like I do not know what bubbling quantum foam or something like that.
There are also shovels, especially in those more postcondensing moments, tinged with excess of tenderness and dreamy, as if the team leaned slightly beyond the limit to which such games are allowed, but there is not much and I do not mind too much listening.
I buy it, great thing, found quite by chance in the depths of the Internet - I clicked spontaneously on the recommendations on youtube and went.