Thursday, 18 June 2015

Lay Llamas – Space Jungle Mantra


“Italian afro-funk psychonauts touch down in the Roundhouse temple,” says Dave Weller of 4Zero Records, in his opening description of the latest release from his label. “Originally, in the distant future, a mythical tribe of Nigerian time travellers... now an Italian afro-funk-space-psych outfit. Last year they released their acclaimed debut album, Ostro, on Rocket Recordings and toured the UK in support of Swedish voodoo rockers, Goat, culminating in an unforgettable performance at London’s Roundhouse. Captured on digital multi-track the subsequent recording was just too good to only be shared with ‘friends and family’ and so we are making it available as a highly limited CD and a highly unlimited download, that includes a unique prismatic remix.”

They’re a Sicilian duo, Nicola Giunta and Gioele Valenti, though they’re backed here in a live context by guitar, drum and synth, playing an addictively repetitive primal trance fusion thing that has something mystical at its core, something mystical in a primitive sense, invoking old gods and delving deep for a sense of groove rooted in instinct and freeness. Dave is right, of course, a live set far too good to not be made more widely available. ‘Spiritual Expedition’ they declaim as one of the track titles, a thoughtful and understated, angular yet intoxicating, drift where the restrained but insistent drum patterns push along a soundscape that mostly wants to hide itself in the background, emerging occasionally from its undergrowth and then burying itself back into itself again before swishing out into ‘Something Wrong’ with Nicola’s singing chanting vocals akin to a ritualistic camp-fire sermon.

Before that, the mid-point of their Roundhouse set assuming that the album represent the full swathe of the performance is the scene-setting jungle squawking of ‘Overmind’ and ‘Beyond The Time & Space’, into which they insert the opening wash of synths, communing with nature, building up gossamer-thin layers of sound that shimmer into their rainforest of effects. It’s an entrancing start that luxuriates in the expanse of time in which they allow it to grow and develop, nearly six minutes before it starts to become more forceful, more robust, hinting that they could let it loose in a muscular release but keeping it held-back, keeping it crystalline and fragile. They play that bit out in transporting their audience back to a supplication to those old gods or pagan calls, and then let loose their groove with ‘Archaic Revival’, a funky call to dance and movement that wants the audience to respond as one, as a tribe with single purpose.

It’s all long-form, extended music. Each track takes its time to build into its theme, their tunes all having plenty of space to work within – no walls of sound but instead a sense of freedom where they give each other a massive amount of room to play in. ‘The Place Where We Come From Is The Place Where We’re Going To’ its final expanse, eighteen minutes that starts at a sloth’s pace and a tribal dance’s sense of destiny and purpose, a world music with a satisfying range that reaches a crescendo of sorts, a flickering of bodies in unison around a fire, the flames licking upwards and the bodies flowing around it before ending in an off-kilter reverb appropriately coiling the suite back into itself again.


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4Zero Records Website

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