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(51:00, Transubstans Records)
TRACK LIST: We 25:33 1. We Are Them 2. In the Desert 3. Over the Mountains 4. As We Return The Road to Agartha 25:27 5. Bairagi 6. Bhairavi 7. Ahir Bhairav 8. Bhimpalasi 9. Shree 10. Jog LINEUP: Sam Riffer – basses; darbuka KG West – guitars, sitar; keyboards Love Forsberg – drums, percussion Anna Sandberg – recorders; vocals Janet Jones Simmonds – lead vocals Tangman – tambourine
Prolusion. The Swedish band SIENA ROOT was formed sometime in the late ‘90s, with a central core trio as the foundation of the band, while a minor army of musicians has participated on records and concerts in the following years. "Different Realities" is their fourth full-length venture and was issued by the Swedish label Transubstans Records in August 2009.
Analysis. Siena Root's label states that acts like Captain Beyond and Led Zeppelin have been major influences on their musical escapades in the press release that accompanied this album. And indeed, those who fancy a slice of vintage hard rock of the more sophisticated variety should find plenty to cater to their tastes on this most recent effort of the band, including a few nods in the directions mentioned. But first and foremost my perception of this album is that it might be described as vintage sounding stoner rock, infused with at times heavy doses of psychedelic spices. The opening number We, the first of two 25 minutes long epics this production sports, does open in a manner that should please those who like Led Zeppelin at their most psychedelic. It doesn't take too long before heavy organs and guitars take over the opening segment of this composition, going back and forth between intense hard rocking sequences and gentler atmospheric passages, both expressions drenched in psychedelic sonic flavors. Eastern tinges and folk vibes in the form of flute soloing dominate the second part of this number, while a more straight forward vintage stoner rock excursion is the name of the game for the third part. The last four minutes take on a rather different stylistic expression though, with heavy, space-tinged organs taking the lead in an excursion that bears striking resemblances to early ‘70s Eloy in overall sound. This last segment, named As We Return in the track list, is the most adventurous part of this first composition as well as the most interesting one, concluding the initial piece on a high note, figuratively speaking. The second construction on this disc has been named The Road to Agartha, and few will be surprised to read that this 6-part epic is a much more eastern-oriented affair. Bairagi is a neat introduction to the track, blending the stoner rock of the former track with eastern-sounding folk music elements, as well as adding stronger psychedelic spices to the overall mix. For the following 10 minutes or so, Siena Root dives straight into raga territories, to a greater or lesser degree blending eastern instruments with western folk music, but always giving the former the upper hand. Those expecting these four parts to be of a typical relaxed meditative nature will be disappointed, though, as the band opts for pace-filled energetic excursions with skilled use of drums and percussion to maintain the momentum. The last part of this creation has been called Jog, and here Siena Root blends the eastern sounds and dynamics with the stoner rock expression explored previously on this disc in a more typical manner. Those who have heard a few albums sporting ‘70s hard rock spiced with psychedelic tinges and sitar won't find a new sound here, but it does conclude this particular album in a nice and logical manner.
Conclusion. Eastern-tinged psychedelic hard rock with a sonic expression firmly placed in the early ‘70s is the name of the game on "Different Realities". And while the opening composition concentrates on the psychedelic hard rock part of the description, the second one has its focus set pretty deeply in raga territories. Those who find this sounding like an intriguing musical package to explore will most likely find this production to be a delightful experience – as long as they don't expect anything of a highly sophisticated or progressive nature.
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