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Hugo Strange

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Album Review

The trio's first record was a bit tentative compared to the truly awesome, powerful shows and releases that would yet be in the offing, but as a fine if at times clearly derivative debut, Hugo Strange finds Paik well-positioned to explore its love of instrumental shoegaze power. Rob Smith is pretty much the star of the show; he has his effects pedals (indeed, there's a heap of them shown in a booklet photo) and uses them plenty and often. If there's an obvious criticism, it's that so many songs follow the same path — a "clean" lead melody or motif, a cranking of the amps and digital delays, a quieter conclusion. But with results like the slow majestic grind of "Duster" and the really beautiful "Tessai," the complaints aren't all that much. The Ali Clegg/Ryan Pritts rhythm section is fine without being notably remarkable here, though there are some moments of individual flash (Pritts' slow drum breaks on "Mr. Gone," Clegg's general way around deep moods that Simon Gallup would approve of). There's other hints of the Cure's melancholy, as well as My Bloody Valentine's queasiness ("Clouds" pretty much demonstrates that a few seconds in, as does "E. Grim") and Slowdive's steady, awesome majesty. All in all, Hugo Strange is enjoyable rather than remarkable, but that's no reason not to give it a listen if the inclination to those sounds and styles are there.


Formed: 1996

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Paik formed in 1996 when guitarist Rob Smith, bassist Ali Clegg, and drummer Ryan Pritts began to collaborate in Michigan's burgeoning space rock music scene. The trio released their debut, Hugo Strange, in 1998 on Beyonder Records. In 1999, the Spacer EP was released, again on Beyonder. In 2001, Paik released Corridors, their most ambitious record to date. The band contributed tracks to two compilations, including Noise Factory Records' Beautiful Noise...the Apocalypse in 1999 and Datacarbon Records'...
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Hugo Strange, Paik
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