Patrick R. Pärk – Sports Themes for Psychonauts

[Ethereal Mother Tapes, 2021]

Patrick R. Pärk’s newest release, Sports Themes for Psychonauts, is a self-described alternate theme for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics. But this isn’t some background noise meant to drum up mushy feelings of a rah-rah, joyous celebration of the coming-together of athletes in a globally harmonious act of symbolism. No, this is something darker—murkier—its ominous sequences looping in on each other, evolving, dissolving into washes of noise. It’s the antithesis of the recent work (or recent unearthing of the previous work, based on whom you believe) of Kosmischer Läufer.

“Light the Lamp” doesn’t bring to mind an opening ceremony filled with rejoicing fans and open-armed embracing of a world united. Instead, it plays as an opening to a Wes Craven film, a dreary foreshadowing. “Mescalero Gambit”‘s discordant melodies bounce off each other, driving unease and a feeling of hesitancy. “Soul Court Press” brings to mind early Cure, with their simple, sad plucked riffs and understated gothiness. “Down to the Last Out” recalls some of GAS’s darker, late works; though punchier and less symphonic in nature.

When you consider the backdrop to those olympics—the fact that they came a year after a global pandemic had shut them down, and continued in earnest despite the ongoing struggle to contain said pandemic that had to that point killed over 4 million people worldwide—it makes sense this collection of songs isn’t in the mood to dance. It’s a soundtrack that highlights the true background of those olympics. It’s a transmission that aims to cut through the fallacies of what was being presented. It’s a well-produced, and sonically ambitious truth-sayer.

Listen to and order the album here. While you’re there, check out some of Pärk’s numerous other works.

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