Ah, Greece. One of the world’s oldest civilisations that gave us literature, mathematics, philosophy and democracy. It also has a thriving Stoner Rock scene at present as the likes of Nightstalker, 1000 Mods and Naxatras would attest to and Arrakis are the latest addition.
Formed in the summer of 2012 and based in Thessaloniki, Arrakis are a three-piece consisting of Panagiotis Haris (Guitar), Iraklis Dimitriadis (Bass) and Vangelis Anastasiou (Drums). Power trios always seem to deliver the most potent music with bands such as Cream, Jimi Hendrix Experience, Blue Cheer, Husker Du and The Wipers. De La Soul once sang ‘three is the magic number’ and they weren’t wrong, and they happened to be a threesome too. Well, Arrakis can now be added alongside this fine company.
The name Arrakis is derived from the fictional desert planet featured in the Dune series of novels by Frank Herbert and Technontology Vol. 1 is their latest album following on from 2016’s Electricon. The band are reportedly gathering material for the second volume of this album which would suggest to me that this will be a conceptual piece of work. In fact, the album title refers to Ontology which is the philosophical study of being and the song titles; Pareidolia, Misophonia and Hypothalamus would appear to point in this direction, although without lyrics it is difficult to confirm. Arrakis are clearly an intelligent band with an interest in highbrow, albeit complex concepts, Def Leppard and Pour Some Sugar On Me this ain’t.
The artwork is somewhat interesting. It looks like it was created in the 1980s on an Amstrad computer. Most of the cover is in black and white with mountains in the background. In the foreground there is a colour picture of what I assume is a landscape that is either being peeled away or added onto the background. Stylistically it resembles Kid A by Radiohead.
This is Desert Jam music with more of a punch and a cerebral bent…
Arrakis are an instrumental outfit, in the vein of Karma To Burn and Earthless and remind me of the latter with the improvisational quality of the music combined with the heavy riffage of the former. On third track Animan, you could imagine Isaiah Mitchell of said Earthless wailing away (which I had the good fortune of seeing at Desertfest this year). Track 4 Misophonia has a metallic crunch which is where Karma To Burn come in. This is Desert Jam music with more of a punch and a cerebral bent, unlike say the likes of Yawning Man who are far more of a Psychedelic and dare I say trippy prospect. Whereas Yawning Man makes you want to drop acid, kick back and look at the night sky, Arrakis makes you want to drink beer round a campfire and take pot-shots at the consumed empty beer bottles.
Despite these metallic forays Arrakis are no musical luddites, last year they covered Manos Loizos’ (considered one of the most important Greek Cypriot music composers of the 20th century) Eudokia. This interest in classical music is typical of progressive outfits, whether it be Emerson Lake and Palmer in the 1970’s covering Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures At An Exhibition or Deep Purple collaborating with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, this is nothing new. What makes Arrakis so unique is them being from the Stoner Rock scene which isn’t best known for its connection to Classical music.
And this is what appeals most to my ears, the willingness for Arrakis to truly broaden their sound and not be confined by their genre. Like most great music, Technontology Vol. 1 unveils something new each time you listen to it.
Scribed by: Reza Mills