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(65:30, Trail Records)
LINEUP / TRACK LIST: 1. Cosmic Vibration: Aurora 6:54 2. Triptych: Origins of Life 6:19 3. The Misteriosos: The Sun 9:09 4. Mouches a L'Orange: Sixty Nine 6:50 5. Deti Picasso: Kele Lao 6:45 6. Grey Mouse: Snow 7:24 7. Plootoh: Caronte 6:06 8. The Narcotic Daffodils: The Crazy Dwarf 9:19 9. Zhaoze: Fishing for the Stars 6:25
Prolusion. The US label TRAIL RECORDS has been a fine addition to the roster of US based indie labels for the last few years, specializing in psychedelic music in general and remastered reissues of overlooked bands and releases in particular. For their thirteenth full length production the label has opted to cover somewhat new ground: a collection of (mostly) unsigned and relatively unknown artists based in various parts of the planet. A journey of discovery if you like.
Analysis. There's a lot of good music being made, and even the most avid fan won't ever get to hear more than a minor percentage of the new albums released each and every year. And when you expand the canvas from your own region to the entire planet, we're probably down to percentages of percentages in terms of what you hear about compared to what's released. That 2012 saw at least two thousand brand new albums aimed partially or directly towards people who listen to progressive rock and progressive metal is a number that might feel staggering to many, but I'm certain that there were even more. But just by scratching the surface that was about the number of releases I summarized at the end of the year, and I know that there is plenty of material released I'm blatantly unaware of. It's due to compilations of this kind that those of us with a keen interest in music get to know about some of the artists out there that we would otherwise have missed out on. And as usual with Trail Records, it's a good quality collection of material we have at hand here. I tend to start out by describing the least interesting material on productions of this kind. In this case this covers a third of the tracks that I would rank as pleasant due to my personal taste in music. The Belarussian band Mouches A L'Orange is the first of these, their live recording of Sixty Nine a nice enough piece of music with ample room for guitars and organ to solo, a pleasant fluctuating intensity and some neat sax details thrown in for good measure. The Russian act Grey Mouse is another band in the nice enough category for me, their creation Snow a fascinating blend of folk-oriented themes complete with raga inspired textures that develop into a creation closer to the likes of Black Sabbath towards the end, with a detour to a more jazz-oriented expression in between. The Italian band Plootoh presents Caronte next, a composition that to my ears has more in common with sacral music than psychedelic music as such, with gentle organ textures and blues oriented guitar soloing as the main motif providers. The German act Cosmic Vibration comes across as rather more compelling with Aurora however, opening with a raga-inspired drone and chanting vocals, then taking a sharp turn into a pleasant guitar driven sequence sporting elegant soloing referencing Pink Floyd and David Gilmour prior to the chants reappearing for the conclusive part. The US band The Misteriosos serves up another fine creation in the shape of The Sun, sporting partially spoken female lead vocals, a compelling tribal drums and bass guitar foundation and careful guitar details in single or plural layers depending on whether or not there are vocals present. Deti Picasso (Picasso’s Children) from Armenia is another intriguing acquaintance, the outfit’s composition Kele Lao alternating between a sparse theme dominated by female lead vocals and a richly layered instrumental one with ample room for flute and violin to supplement guitars and keyboards, building up to a grand finale with backing vocals supplementing the latter arrangement prior to concluding on a gentle, folk inspired flute note. The Narcotic Daffodils from Belgium should earn quite a few new fans if their piece Crazy Dwarf is anything to go by too, from the careful opening with resonating guitar licks supplemented by raga inspired details to the following darker organ and guitar driven combo, a somewhat more tranquil arrangement when vocals are added in and then concluding on a harder, darker and more energetic note again. The two compositions so far undescribed are the ones I feel are the most interesting. The UK act Triptych with its at times stunning Origins of Life, alternating between a dampened, elegant eastern inspired folk oriented arrangement and a driving, energetic construction with subdued funky guitars and bass combining nicely with steady drum patterns as a foundation for layered guitar soloing and a fascinating, nervous keyboard texture. And finally there's the Chinese band Zhaoze, their carefully controlled construction Fishing for the Stars opening and ending with a simplistic lute of some variety or other, backed by gentle keyboard layers, with elongated sequences in between that see them utilizing both resonating careful guitar details and typical post rock oriented textured guitars, backed by marching rhythms and occasional darker toned, subdued guitar riffs.
Conclusion. If you'd like to sample some of the contemporary but still mostly unknown artists exploring the psychedelic parts of the rock universe and frequently entering the realm of progressive rock while at it, this compilation by Trail Records caters to that task quite nicely. An hour of music by bands that look back in history just as much as trying to enter paths not too explored by others. A fine production that merits a check by those with a fascination for sophisticated psychedelic rock.
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