Saturday, 14 November 2009

Ancestors - Of Sound Mind

I’ve been reading bits and pieces from the current Marvel Comics story-arc ‘event’, Dark Reign, wherein various ‘Dark’ versions of characters and teams have been enjoying their own mini-series, and it struck me on listening to this album by Los Angeles quintet Ancestors, that there’s a useful way to describe their music inherent in Marvel’s titles. Bear with me, because it’s as if Of Sound Mind was created by alternative versions of some of the notables of the spacerock scene – if it were a gig it would feature a headline line-up of Dark Hawkwind and Dark Pink Floyd. If a band with Pink in their name could have it prefaced with ‘Dark’ of course.

It’s a real magnum opus, a powerhouse art house suite full of not just big but genuinely massive sounds, overwhelmingly saturated with blackness at its core. By drawing the ‘Dark’ analogy, it’s not to say that they sound like this or that band, even though in free-flow instrumental mode, such as on ‘Mother Animal’, they’re akin to Hall of the Mountain Grill or Warrior on the Edge of Time era ‘live’ Hawkwind, that sort of multi-layered, multi-textured freakery where every musician is laying on more and more drive so that what’s organically created is a density for which ‘Wall of Sound’ is a totally inadequate metaphor. It’s more to say that you’ve heard this music before, it’s a soundtrack that’s brought you to where you are now and yet you’ve never heard it previously – that sort of warped or twisted vision of something close and vital.

Much of this mighty and drawn-out set of aural movements is totally thrilling in its relentlessness. When they take things down a notch or two, as on the piano-based ‘Challenging’, they lose nothing whatsoever of their intensity – they might become thoughtful and brooding but they mesh their sound in such a way as to be completely absorbing and demanding of rapt attention. What didn’t I like? Yet more guttural vocals seeping in, even though I’m sure most would not find that delivery style out of place in Ancestors’ urgently primal brutality. That aside, Of Sound Mind is yet another great Tee Pee Records release – we’re learning here to look to each new release from this label with ever more urgent expectation, right? – and absolutely will hook-in readers of this blog to its uncompromising delivery.

Tee Pee Records Website

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