“There's only so much guitar, bass and drums can do in these circumstances. Despite the energy and a good turn from the drummer it was overlong and formless.” Lewis Stapleton, Liverpool Echo (one of the uninitiated).
While the machinegun staccato crackle of the drums patters in yer ears, and the bass ploughs deep furrows of glowing Chernobyl farmland and the axe is just a soaring sweeping wailing Stuka hepped up on fuzz wah guitar. All this is manned by a core buncha dudes who understand psychedelia, their previous LP showed us that Black Bombaim were seriously diligent in their jam-band cred, and their latest LP, Titans, is accurately named. Lemme just list off the righteous and honourary alternative hall-of-famers who get a walk-on appearance: Steve Mackay (The Stooges), Noel V. Harmonson (Comets On Fire), Adolfo Luxúria Canibal (Mão Morta), Jorge Coelho (ZEN, Torto), Tiago Jónatas (Surya Exp Duo), Isaiah Mitchell (Earthless/Howlin Rain), Ghuna X, HHY, Tiago Pereira (Aspen), Guilherme Canhão (Lobster/Sunflare) and João ‘Shela’ Pereira (PAUS, If Lucy Fell, Riding Pânico); each of this galaxy of underground alt-rock convention defying heads contribute to an entire vinyl side of this splendid gatefold identified only with the names of the contributors. Titans they certainly prove themselves (yeah, I hate that, it’s so hack) on this record. The power to create and to destroy, the howling teeth of the abyss on a cosmic scale infest this record in its spinning black hole.
Psychedelia, post-Hawkwindism, jazz, blues, heavy metal, space stoner fuzzorama muddy funk workout jam band freeform melting over-the-top freak power laser zap melting pot referential megalithic delicate vast palatial careful howling yawning epic supergroup birthday party Sputnik godlike thunderstrike microscopic masterful metallic solipsistic… everything. Black Bombaim are world builders, shrine constructers in an endless quest to pay homage to the ones who nailed the beauty, Hawkwind. It’s a kind of long-form jam band cousin to my own psychotic late-night teeth grinding frenzy writing workouts ‘cept more talented and pulled off strings and skins, and it’s something I rarely indulge. Music of mediative potential tends to be accessible, tends to flow like water into whatever the situation calls for, be sure, at some point, probably right at the outset as the thuddingly heavy heavens heartbeat bassline comes in right from the off you’ll clue in that this ain’t yer Saturday Night hoedown soundtrack; it’s cinematic. Compared to their Saturdays and Space Travels 2010 LP, it’s nearly double the length, with twice the disk and an inordinate amount of ambition. It’s all wild noise, despite the vast expanse of empty blackened space the equally vast fleet of old USAF aircraft tooled up for cosmic journeying find every last corner of both records and infest them with the howling screaming sound of their petrol engines toiling against the black, it infests every moment of the LP, top-to-tail, beginning-to-end, from the front row of the theatre to the very edge of space like a shockwave. The record is deafening, even if you turn it down. You may experience this, rolling that dial the wrong way and still getting ‘cha min’ blawn by the racket because it ain’t loud per-se… we aren’t talking red line, it’s just loud because it’s shaking the whole planet. It’s a burst of energy from the sun in the form of a vast pillar of flame licking out through space and barbequing our little rock with no remorse or notice. It’s an astral volume, the sort of combined sound all those loose atoms in the cosmos make as the clatter ‘gainst yer space vessel as you hurtle across it at a trillion miles a second. It’s the seeds of creation, water, wind, earth, fire, they’re all here represented by a valve-melting lead guitar that’s alternatively thumping, strumming, rolling and humming all sorta noise that sounds all kinds of strange; then there’s that telegraph wire bass that just won’t quit and the masterfully organic drumming. The most noticeable supporting player is Steve Mackay, notable for contributing his sax to Fun House, and now it’s superb here too. It’s all over the place, really, the screaming distortion opening to side three is pure amateur hour, reeks of the raw and appeals for exactly that reason. It’ll leave laser-engraved in yer skull the words this is now, 1976. It’s good. Remember that? Not five star in Q fucking magazine or on the cover of the fucking NME good, good, needle jumping a coupla seconds through the highs good. Filling yer soul good. Challenging and exciting good. Posing questions rather than making statements good. Good.
|Black Bombaim, sans supergroup cred, still rocking.|
Now that Carlton Melton are going the way of Earth, and Earth have gone the way of Buddy Holly, it’s ‘bout time for some genuinely referential heads to appear who kick out the jams in four of the most Dopesmoker-inflected noise-offs ever, and bring in enough of their sadly-forgotten heroes to help with proceedings. The guitar tone nicked wholesale from the Heads and the bass half-inched from Cisneros circa 2012 is as good a reason as any to study this record, it demands a great many spins, but there isn’t any doing anything in that time. You gotta sit, and think about every single action because this record only reveals itself after the grooves are worn in by the needle. Despite coming in relentlessly and hugely like the tide, between plays it will fall away, play mounting on play may just flood yer room and leave all yer other records floating about and soggy. As jam bands go, this record is everything the new Cosmic Dead record shoulda been, packed with life, weeded out and sumptuous languorous soundscapes. Trust me, it’ll open, it’ll take on its multi-armed Vishnuation and say “I am become death. The destroyer of worlds”.
Git it awl here kiddies (as well as their previous releases, which are also stellar), you won't regret it.
Written under duress by Steven.