Sacri Monti are a fuzzy, psychey, trip-out of a band from San Diego, California whose debut eponymous full length has just dropped down on us from Tee Pee Records’ sepia-tinted land of sonic solace. The quintet are comprised of members of Radio Moscow (bassist Anthony Meier) and JOY (drummer Thomas Dibenedetto) alongside synth/organ-player Evan Wenskay and guitarists Brenden Dellar (also on lead vocals) and Dylan Donovan. Any prior insight you may have into these named bands’ collective outputs makes it immediately clear just where the Sacri Monti stall has been set out: in a pile of acid-distorted, noisey riff-rofforama, under a glow as bright as the desert sun.
There’s no hint of a cover-up or twisted agenda here, this six-tracker packed full of extended jams and wig-outs is a solid example of good old-fashioned blissful, yet amp-heavy ‘70s Krautrock. Radio Moscow’s rawness and emotive flower-power guitar-work shines through on the likes of the expansive, organic Slipping From The Day and the Hawkwind-by-way-of-Astra-flavoured title track. Much of this record simply washes over you, not feeling like a collection of songs but instead a naturally flowing jam session that swims and slithers almost whole and complete around you, like an unsuspecting shoal passing through a countryside brook in the afternoon haze.
Tracks like the light and dreamy opener Staggered In Lies bring closer comparisons to the solidly formed, yet delicate improv flows of Earthless or NAAM, interweaving floating riffs and cackling, yet mature percussion into a pre-planned, yet flexible structure. Adding Dellar’s sporadic and spacey, but earnest vocal lines into the fray brings a sense of purpose and message to Wenskay’s constantly bubbling and dominant organ work and those smouldering, electrical-storm guitar lines.
Glowing Grey and Sitting Around In A Restless Dream perhaps sit a little closer to a mash-up of Graveyard, Budgie, Golden Void and The Groundhogs in their balls-out pulsing drive and more arresting sense of direction. Sacri Monti can be bombastic at times with Dibenedetto’s energetic kitwork and Meier’s constantly throbbing basslines but their songs are long and expansive enough to allow the entire band to be explored, for underlying rhythms to be resurrected and recycled and for all the loose ends to be tied up neatly. There’s a lovely sheen to the likes of the opening boogie on Ancient Seas And Majesties and the gradually building-before-soaring humidities of the 12-minute title track that give Sacri Monti an air of genuine authenticity: a retro pastiche that so many apply and strive for but very few are awarded on merit alone.
Sacri Monti is a fine debut offering from a well-presented new bluesy band who are definitely ones to keep tabs on. I have to say that I struggled to find that it did much more for me than it’s simple mission statement to be a damn good psyche rock record and that’s no bad thing, but there’s a lot of bands out there and I only hope that Sacri Monti can bring enough new games to the party to keep things interesting for all. At times this record threatened to be simply a great background long-player but never a star attraction, and maybe that’s still the case, but there’s no doubting the quality of both its craftsmanship and finish. Let’s hope that Sacri Monti are able to stay out of the garage and keep true to their literal translation on the hard, dusty road ahead to their own Sacred Mountain. Groovy baby, very groovy indeed.
Scribed by: Pete Green