Virtuosity can sometimes be a tricky thing to balance. Too much and it can start to get in the way of the song itself, too little and – depending upon the style in question – things can start to seem a bit simplistic. Palm are an act who seem to have navigated this particular conundrum pretty well. Sitting at the more melodic end of Math Rock, there’s no shortage of tunes here to counterpoint the innate technicality of the songs. Both their songs, and the EP that house them, are pithy enough that the group never risk too much of a good thing; both a blessing and a curse.

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Palm are a band that trade in a kaleidoscopic array of melodies and counter-melodies, polyrhythmic excess forging the way for a kind of transcendence hard to find outside the relentless rhythms the band push to the forefront of the songs. They’re powerful and compelling enough that it would be in no way a detriment to the ‘Shadow Expert’ had they extended the often strikingly short songs into longer-form pieces, allowing themselves to revel a little more in the headily articulate polyrhythms and sonic texturing they’re so good at.

Then again, one major benefit of such brevity is that the album never risks losing impact.  ‘Shadow Expert’ is an EP of affecting songs – this not a collection of pieces to serve as shallow background listening, but rather it is music to be scrutinised and absorbed. While extension of some of the band’s most frenetic moments wouldn’t have hurt, the choice to keep things to the point does lend its own advantages, a sense of immediacy and punchiness key amongst them.

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Guitars are largely rhythmic tools here. Although there’s innate melody in the instrument, the guitar is used here to further the dizzying rhythmicality of the album first and foremost, with the band’s dual vocalists left to carry most of the melodic burden. Vocals often carve their own path through the music, not overtly following any particular tune, instead opting to incite a further sense of the unexpected.

‘Shadow Expert’ is a compelling collection of songs that makes no concessions to those looking for immediacy in their music.  Both melodically and rhythmically, Palm are a band which prize depth over accessibility; an admirable trait but one that necessitates patience to fully understand. Give ‘Shadow Expert’ due time, and it will pay you back.

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