Sometimes you have to recalibrate your listening curve and abandon all expectations when a record like Elevators To The Grateful Sky’s (ETTGS) Cape Yawn comes around – the Palermo, Sicily quartet (Sandro-vox, Giorgio-guitars/bass, Peppe-guitars, and Giulio-drums/percussion) have prided themselves on the fusion of diverse musical/artistic influences, blaming the blazing Italian heat for their unabashed forays into prog-doom-alt rock hybridism. I blame straight up creative talent on this one, otherwise their eponymous EP (2012), debut full length Cloud Eye (2013) and now Cape Yawn (2016) would stand as the longest running fugue state on record. But I’ll be honest, on first spin, the album does play more like a compilation leaving you hunting for a consistent common thread that ties these 13 tracks together – fortunately, after enough time and marination, it’s clear the thread is there and the creeping wah-drenched grooves of A Mal Tiempo Buena Cara and the sludgy snarls and dynamic arpeggios of We Are Nothing make a far less disparate comparison.
The band covers a wide terrain and deals some no pretense riff rock with ease – fans of Karma To Burn’s turn of the century ‘numbered’ history (1999’s Wild Wonderful Purgatory, 2001’s Almost Heathen) will dig the vocals driven take on tracks like opener Ground or Mongerbino – Sandro has a vocal style for every version of rock the band serves up, and while this versatility detracts somewhat from any supposed singular identity, he retains enough baseline charisma to make it work. I Wheel flaunts a sinister crawling riff and groove that pairs nicely with his sultry, drunken wails – one version of vox that nails it spot on. But while ETTGS totes a convincing muscular prowess, the dialed down moments are where this album really elevates – Dreams Come Through is an album highlight, pulling from a Scrolls-era Wellwater Conspiracy treasure chest, replete with enough deceptively complex Matt Cameronisms to make you think he penned at least a part of this one.
Complexity and memorability increase proportionately with this band, which is an unexpected pleasant surprise when the converse is true in most circumstances; the instrumental title track reinforces that notion with its stoned-psych acoustics and nicely panned dual lead noodling – it’s a trip that does anything but sedate. The group is certainly a jack of all trades, master of some, or even most, and the few missteps (a less than memorable verse/chorus on the bluesy riff rocker Bullet Words or the arguable incongruence of sax instrumental “Laura”) are minor. Furthermore, I’ll be damned if I’m really going to fault the band on the addition of Laura – an ode to the late Mark Sandman (Morphine), in my completely biased opinion, deserves a spot on any goddamn album, period. And the choice of experimentation here probably says more about the band’s maturity (evolved) than anything else.
The take home message? Don’t let the many faces fool you because this band’s on to something far greater than even the sum of its parts…press repeat and chew on that.
Scribed by: Jeremy Moore