Electric Moon – Stardust Rituals

elecmoonThere are many, many, many heavy psych bands out there who make what sounds a bit like jamming music. There is one such band, however, who are indisputably the King, Queen and Current Drummer of that crop, and that band is Electric Moon. And it is a cause for joy, nay, celebration, that they have released a new studio album.

Stardust Rituals is actually a bit less heavy than they can be, but just as transportative. Komet Lulu brings her vocals back for this release – I mean that in a relative way, as these long songs are still mostly instrumental, but having vocals does add a nice texture and the effects she puts on hers suit the music superbly well. In fact, I think she is the secret weapon that makes them a great band, although guitarist Sula Bassana is a pretty handy force to have in your musical phenomenon. There is also a more eastern vibe going on, plus the organ comes a bit more to the fore early on.

They could have re-done The Doomsday Machine or Lunatics and I would still have been a happy man, but they haven’t. Stardust Rituals is as good as anything else that will be released this year, by one of the all time greats of heavy psych.

Centralstodet / The Myrrors – Ljudkamrater

centralstodetThe second of the three promos I mentioned what were dead good, like. This is a split release, combining an a group with whom I am totally unfamiliar with a group of whom I am more than slightly familiar.

Centralstodet have been described as Prog rock and as space rock in the whole two reviews I’ve sought out on t’net; I myself put them in that ‘jam band’ genre on the basis of the tunes included here. I might think differently when I hear some of the other stuff. There’s a bit of an edge to what they do, though one man’s edge is another man’s middle, as I once saw a self of mine write. For example, Colour Horizon called an earlier release of theirs ‘harsh,’ but I wonder if he’s ever seen Merzbow live? I have.

The Myrrors only contribute one track, but that one track is 20 minutes of possibly their finest recorded music to date. It is wonderfully spacious, meditative and hypnotic, and I reckon it would soundtrack a mellow initiation ritual in the desert, were such things ever to happen, because obviously assigning such judgements is my area of expertise (I’ve never been to a real desert, though I have been to something called an outback, I don’t think it’s the same thing as there were grasses and bushes and everything).

You can get this on vinyl, if you do vinyl, here.

Lamagaia

lamagaiaI mentioned of late that new/contemporary music is teasingly unlikely to make its way into my collection in the near future, but fortunately I’ve been sent 3 promos of late and they’re all good, damn good.

Lamagaia do this kind of repetition thing unto epic proportions, and the two tracks on here are feasts of sonic content, destined to unfold further upon each listen. The opening ‘Aurora’ is easily the heaviest thing I’ve heard them do, but they then go and do one of their more mellow moments on what I assume will be side 2 if you buy the vinyl.

Although they don’t sound like them particularly, they remind me of Oneida before their improv inflections began to dominate, what with their incredibly disciplined yet loose repetition, repetition, repetition. This is excellent music; perfect for our interesting times.

Heron Oblivion

herobSupergroups are usually such a bad idea. At least, they used to be back in the days the majority of music was released on major record labels. I have a suspicion that it might not be quite so straight-forward now that most of the best music is now located away from the mainstream and those oh-so-glaring lights of commercial expectation.

SO anyway, Heron Oblivion are comprised of members of Comets on Fire and Espers, amongst others, two artists who between them made 4 of my favourite albums from the first decade of this millennium, including one of the contenders for Best Tune Ever (that would be Dogwood Rust by Comets on Fire for those of you not into link-clicking and/or not got speakers available as you read this). No pressure, then. To complete the line-up, Charlie is from Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound, a name I’m familiar with have never heard music by until I searched for that link.

I first read about this when it came out but for whatever reason I did not check it out. Then someone posted a performance in their year end list, and that did it for me. I immediately slapped myself a bit – though not too hard because that would just be silly and I do try my very best not to be silly – and went and added this to my wishlist. And now with payday having been and gone, I bought it. Possibly my one buy for the month.

This isn’t all that much like either of the bands that made their reputations, it has more of a laid back west coast classic rock from the seventies type of feel, the most obvious reference point being Neil Young and Crazy Horse in the Zuma-era. Having said that, though, the music is recognisably by those same players, even though Ethan is actually playing bass rather than freaky guitar and Noel is playing guitar instead of effects’n’drums. The drums are handled by Meg, obviously. The songwriting is superb, the riffs and the playing are all fantastic, and Meg Baird’s vocals are as transcendent as ever. She has to be one of the best of this generation.

But, as with so much to do with great music, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts – yet another reason I don’t tend to go into detail regarding the parts. This album is best digested in a sitting, although as I rarely, if ever, do the shuffling playlist these days then the tunes may very well work in that aspect too, who knows? But do give this album a listen. It has much to offer the receptive listener.

Blown Out

Not that I’m likely to start being a cheerleader, or even a user, of social media, but sometimes a random stranger can show you an alley worth exploring. On the other hand, they used to do that in the pub too.

Someone started following me on Bandcamp and so I checked out their collection and wishlist and discovered the wonderful Blown Out. If you likes you your teleological jamming then you may well likes these.

It probably just comes down to personal preference and the pushing of my right buttons, but it’s weird how out of roughly 16000 of these bands that form on a weekly basis and that technically speaking do pretty much the same thing, so few of them do it in a way that means anything. In my most recent rambles I drew a distinction between music as communication and sound based products (not using those labels). This sort of jam band music could arguably be a third type of approach, an exploratory thing without destination which is nonetheless not aimless – at least when it’s done well. And Blown Out do it well.

Of course, if your music taste is like that of my brother (i.e. songs over 3 minutes need not apply) then you might as well ignore this one.

Selim Lemouchi & his Enemies

lemouchiimageThe first time I listened to ‘Earth Air Spirit Water,’ I wasn’t really sure what to make of it.

The second time I listened, I was floored.

Opener ‘Chiaroscuro’ has to be one of the most outrageously ambitious pieces of music I’ve ever heard, and definitely one of my current favourites. It’s a repetitive three chord riff where the progression from chord one to two doesn’t seem obvious, and although the third chord resolves it, it’s hard to tell in which chords favour, suggesting the best kind of resolution. And the gradual progression of more and more vocals in separate layers just adds to the ecstasy. Yes, ecstasy. This music is ecstatic.

Which makes it incredibly ironic that he killed himself the not long after this came out (I only found that out when researching this post).

Sonically, some of the tunes remind me of 80s prog (think Rush from this period) whilst the latter part of the album has a similar atmosphere to Polvo’s 2009 comeback album (which is also very decent, btw) although the song constructions are very different, and this is heavier. Much heavier.

Here’s one of the tunes in video:

and here’s the album:

Electric Moon

So, now 2014 is out the way and I got my year end list up, now I can travel back in time to previous musics. Now, it seems that this makes it harder for me to link directly to an album for you to listen to, although with this band it probably isn’t a huge thing, on account of how almost everything they’ve done is frankly marvellous.

Part of me assumes everybody in the world knows about Electric Moon. How can they not? If ever there was a band who represented the psych-rock zeitgeist so compellingly, it’s them. And we’re all into psych-rock aren’t we? That’s why there’s so many bloody chancers getting in on it again…

But it seems that my little world isn’t exactly the same as the ‘objective’ one out there, so it behooves me to tell all of you objective people that Electric Moon exist and are probably better than your favourite psych-rock band. If you look at their discography page, there is an awful lot of releases, many of which are live sets. And me, I’m an album dude, so I largely listen to albums. And there are three albums I really think should be listened to muchly:

 

(I can’t find an equivalent for the ‘Lunatics’ album)

I can tell you about them all by telling you about any one of them, really, and that really is no disrespect or faint praise. This is the sort of music made by a band who know each other inside out, can anticipate where each other is going and can play off each other with immense skill. It feels like jam music that has purpose without having a pre-defined end-point (i.e. pretty much unlike most of the other jam-music out there). I think I’ve now invented a new genre – teleological jamming!

On top of that, there’s a couple of honest-to-goodness songs mixed in too.

I think what really separates them from the rest of the ‘jam-bands’ who are their nearest peers in terms of sonic description is their judicious use of Komet Lulu’s vocals, particularly when she uses the husky whisper that she does on the awesome ‘Moon Love’ (23 minutes of sonic perfection).

In a roundabout way, I would never have discovered Big Blood if it wasn’t for Electric Moon. For years I’ve checked in every now and again over at Ran Prieur‘s website because of his ability to chuck interesting articles and viewpoints out at the world, but I’d never paid much attention to his taste in music, because his recommendations had always seemed a bit too US-indie for my taste, the sort of music that uses the word ‘sophomore.’ (I’m English, and that word means nothing to me, I tell you, nothing!) And then one day he recommended Electric Moon and used the word ‘ineffable’ to describe their music and I thought, you know what, maybe this boy has better taste than I credited him with*, maybe I’ll check out his future recommendations. And pretty much the next band he recommended was Big Blood.

*i.e. taste that I approve of, which probably says more about me than it does about him 🙂 Also, I have never come across a better description of Electric Moon’s music than ‘ineffable.’ I think that’s what I was trying to say using far more words. Think teleology without a specified end-point – life itself, in other words. And the macrocosm in the microcosm in the macrocosm gets demonstrated yet again, at least to my own satisfaction…

I think I can safely say that I am not afraid of teleology.