There is a direct connection between one band from last week's Atomic Split and one band from this week's version, but that direct connection is not necessarily the style of music. Aside from that you will need a spare oxygen tank this week as we trip fast and far through the universe, and while the vehicle is mandatorily psychedelic in nature, whether you use fuel that has a smoky exhaust or whether you simply let the music be your guide, you are likely to be breathless through long quixotic stretches of this quantum quest, quickly quenchable with dispatches of pure oxygen. Enjoy the musical journey folks. It's a trip.
THE ULTRA ELECTRIC MEGA GALACTIC - "THE ULTRA ELECTRIC MEGA GALACTIC"
This album could be considered as a gift of sorts, a gift to lovers and long time followers of stoner rock, psych rock, retro rock, 70s rock, the kind of rock that matters. UEMG are a supergroup comprised of:
Ed Mundell (Monster Magnet, The Atomic Bitchwax) - guitars
Collyn McCoy (Trash Titan, Otep) - bass
Rick Ferrante (Sasquatch) - drums
There is a lot to glean from those 3 lines. Ed Mundell is as well known in the stoner rock world as a rocker can be, having been a significant, intrinsic part of both Monster Magnet and The Atomic Bitchwax. His ability to play his chosen instrument is phenomenal and breathtaking, to say the least, and his influences on both his former bands was integral to their most musically prolific periods. That is not a coincidence. Collyn McCoy formerly of Otep and currently of Trash Titan (that name sounds incredibly familiar, where have I heard it before?) is a whole lot more than a bass player in a rock band, currently laying down monstrous, phenomenal sounds for 2 functioning bands. Rick Ferrante . . . he's the drummer for Sasquatch - you know, SASQUATCH!, a band of gargantuan sound and ability, driven ferociously from the back by the organic and seamless ease of Rick's rhythmic underpinnings. An obvious omission from those 3 lines, too, is the lack of a vocalist, signifying the instrumental bent of this album, something in my experience that tends to lead to an immense and satisfying listening experience. When the music itself has to grab and keep the interest of the listener most stoner rock musicians tend to muster up some mighty tasty tunes. This album is certainly no exception.
The band's story is familiar. Three musicians who found themselves in each other's company and in need of playing at a time when there were no pressing commitments from elsewhere began a musical journey together, a journey that perhaps started out slowly, cautiously, jamming together, playing in small venues in and around the area in which they live, growing together musically into something they could call their own until one day they found they had created something unique, and phenomenal, and noteworthy. Judging by feedback from the crowds, from the people around them, and from their own keen ears they concluded they really should share it with the world. And so they have. Thank you, gentlemen, for this musical gift.
The best way to hear these songs, of course, would be at a live venue. I have not had that privilege, and quite likely never will. From there the closer you can get to live sounds the better off you'll be, but even if all you can muster is to hear this stuff in mp3 format you will still quite likely be blown away by the intricacies and richness of what UEMG have created. It is certainly the kind of album that grabs you hard the first time through and only gets better with each spin through.
Two interesting tidbits about the album are, first, the opening track in which the introduction is a passage written and spoken specifically for the album by the author Harlan Ellison. Cool. And, second, a guest spot on the opening musical track, track #2, by Ferrante's bandmate from Sasquatch, Keith Gibbs. Again, cool.
"Exploration Team", as mentioned, has Gibbs' distinct guitar riffs melding perfectly with the incredible deliveries of UEMG's regular members. The overall feel for the song is fun and light. It's not really light by any stretch, but the enjoyment these guys express while playing, along with the pleasures as a listener, combines with the tempo for entertainment and wonder. As with each song on this album there are hundreds of pieces, parts, snippets, riffs, licks, fills, rolls, what have you that all blend together to create masterpiece after masterpiece. To a trained and experienced ear there is likely to be a dozen spins through the songs to catch what they have crafted in full. For someone who just knows he's hearing greatness, I look forward to dozens of spins of my own.
"Get Off My World!" has a slower tempo and an impeccable fuzz rate, if you will. I think it's fair to say that Mundell's blistering guitar work is the focal point on this song, but McCoy's bass and Ferrante's drums are still ever present and powerful, nonetheless.
"7000 Years Through Time" is like a huge, beautiful, laserbeam solo from beginning to end, which makes sense given the sole writing credits for it go to Mr. Mundell. Its follow on tune, "The Third Eye" is a crispy, crackling twelve minute romp that allows plenty of time for each member to play to the audience with relish, glee, and not a little bit of ferocity, all held in perfect check and doled out expertly in textures and waves that will leave you gasping in the vacuums left behind.
"Rockets Aren't Cheap Enough" . . . it's as much fun as you can have with guitars and drums, I'd be willing to bet.
"The Man With a Thousand Names" is a new kind of fun on the album, infused with sitar infusing this trip to the outer reaches with an Eastern flavor.
"Hello to Oblivion" seems at first to not have distinguishing markers as pronounced as its brethren, but going through it more than once reveals some wicked bass riffs and powerful Bonham style drumwork to go with the multi-layered riffs and rills that permeate the richly textured song.
The album closes out with the trippiest leg of the journey with "In The Atmosphere Factory". The strings, as usual, are multi-faceted and diverse, manipulated here for a surreal experience that flows in and around the steady, primal tempo set down by the song's rhythm. It's a carefully chosen and perfectly played closer.
This album, which is more than likely a mere representative sample of what these songs sound like in a live environment, still will get serious consideration for Top Ten/Twenty lists throughout the rock world at year's end, I have no doubt.
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ELECTRIC TAURUS - "VENERALIA"
Dublin Ireland is the home for this three piece stoner/psych band who have crafted an incredible journey of volume and fuzz with their debut EP "Veneralia". Initially formed in 2010 and having gone through some of the typical growing pains of new bands, by the time they had solidified the lineup and had written some superb music they were comprised of the following members:
James Lynch - Bass
Matt Casciani - Guitar, Vocals
Mauro Frison - Drums
The music was good enough for Italian indie record label Moonlight Records to sign the band and put out this excellent EP. With influences coming heavily from the great rock music of the 60s and 70s, both popular and more from an underground origin, as well as the second coming of rock during the 90s with grunge and stoner/desert sounds, Electric Taurus have managed to create their own unique stoner rock sound that has a distinctive psychedelic flair, making for a nice unique trip through the musical cosmos powered by low tuned, heavy engines, and melodic imagination.
Even though the album is considered an EP, due to its 'meager' 6 tracks, I suppose, it does not skimp on total volume, delivering nearly 50 minutes of quality music.
The opener is "Mountains", a great introduction to the quality on display, with lots of crackling, crunching fuzz, big booming bass, and a melody that is distinctive and memorable. A haunting bridge between the opening minutes of the song and the outro is rich in atmosphere and the vocal stylings of Casciani.
"A New Moon" blasts off with a classic stoner guitar sound comprised of differing riff layers that blend perfectly with strong, dynamic drums to engage the listener immediately into the music. The focal point throughout the song is the music, as opposed to the vocals, which are relegated to a distant yearning call from somewhere deep in the reaches of space. This vehicle of fuzz moves rapidly through space and time on an epic stoner/psych journey.
"Mescalina If At the Edge Of the Earth" is a long playing trippy delight, unfolding cautiously and deliberately until it reaches midpoint where the booster rockets that were heretofore idle kick in with a mighty churn of chaotic rhythm and power, comprised of equal parts guitar riff fuel, liquid drum rolls, and bass tone explosions, as they burn through the final stages of the song with unimaginable power and carefully controlled ignition.
"Two Gods Caput Algol" is more of a throwback to 70s rock reminiscent of early Aerosmith, Cream, or Hendrix. The melody is measured, purposely allowing for the vocals to express power and emotion in tandem with the guitar's mega riffs. The song never relies on one musical idea repeated several times, instead introducing change ups and variances that make it thoroughly intriguing and enjoyable.
"Prelude to the Madness" is another throwback to an earlier sound, but significantly different to the previous track. While it has elements of sounds from forty year old rock it combines that with segments that are slightly reminiscent to grunge era music with a punkish flair. The trippy and far out is never out of the equation, though, making its way in among the feel good rock of the 70s and the torturous glee of the 90s. This eclectic take is, again, quite interesting and entertaining. You never get the feeling anything is done for the sake of it, but instead is cleverly measured and delivered in perfect doses of rock era mashups.
The album closes with "Magic Eye" and an ear for distortion at its low tuned finest accompanied by raw, ragged, redolent riffs of rigor and enthusiasm.
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