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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sunday Sludge: Swarm of Spheres

Americans have managed to get along pretty well with Canadians.  I'm not sure how many canucks are enjoying a three-day weekend in remembrance of fallen heroes, but it's safe for me to say my holiday will be more pleasant because three chuds from Ottawa, Ontario have released a six-track EP that transcends genres and snaps necks with seemingly little effort.  Swarm of Spheres have crafted thirty minutes of psychedelic stoner-sludge mist that may end up on more than a few "Best Of" lists by year's end.

Sounds and atmospheres bend and shift throughout the EP.  Guitars sail and soar in every direction while rhythm moves from coiled humming to buried thickness.  Fuzz and grime merge perfectly on the opener, Thunder Chunky, a sweet and sticky excuse to be late for work.  The up-tempo rollick buzzes between hills, riding the back of stoner-sludge mastery until guitars catch fire and rhythm slows and slugs toward exhaustion.

Blistering pace shrouds Brokeass Mountain through screeches and waivers as Mark McGee's drums kick in your door and dent your head.  The romp hovers, the licks become unchecked lasers, and caked steel-toed boots can't hold down this sound.  Guitar is provided some space as the track progresses; rhythms slow, Andrew Rashotte's bass gets low and loose, and listeners are spurred on a slow burn toward a swollen hive.  And speaking of a swollen hive, HIV for Vendetta drops a hornets' nest as your feet with choppy swells of fuzz.  A hazy path is carved at breakneck speed on this mossy stoner slab.

All elements combine to kick up dust on the EP's best track, Ham Smuggler Vs. The Vegan.  Grooves are low and thick, rattling skulls with no chance for listeners to keep up.  The punishment relents, however, and Jay Chapman's guitar takes a prophetic journey toward psychedelia.  The track peeks into quicksand before entering its awesome, sludgy plod.  This is one to savor.

Swarm of Spheres are most accomplished where they manipulate their sounds to seamlessly transition, evident on every single track.  Thestor Basutus glues itself together with brick and mortar until the brakes are tapped and the cosmos is embraced.  Growing dirtier and sludgier as it plays out, Chapman explains "your message was lost, so nothin's different."  Well, everything's different about this sound, cheesy as that statement is.

The dirge roll-out gives way to the psychedelic bounce of Fear Is The Killer, thick with mist.  Reckless and thunderous, sounds move from slick and clean to shrouded and collapsed.  Guitars sputter as the track goes to its knees with churning rhythms spewing incredibly dense jams.  A sticky slugfest ensues, staying low to the earth and clobbering earholes with a gravity not even your uncle's fat-assed wife can boast.  These seven and a half minutes deliver everything promised by the first five tracks.

Swarm of Spheres have quite a sense of humor about themselves, but there's no denying they take a serious approach to their craft.  You won't find six songs so concise and diverse all at once; this trio has released a rock-solid effort that can't be shelved.  Their transitions are smooth, their influences aren't dishonored, and their amalgam of styles is refreshing and far-reaching enough to make a fan out of anyone.  So give this one a shot, eh?

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