Do I really need to give these bands and introduction?! Seriously? Reeeeally? Oh man. Err, well then, if you’ve been in a coma since Hendrix kicked the bucket and Blue Cheer released ‘Vincebus Eruptum’, then you’re in luck as rock music is still as firmly in its never-ending golden age of incredibility and flair (or flares!) as it ever was. The lovely and very generous people over at ScionAV.com (that’s on the ‘internet’ for you coma-folk still reading, although I guess you’ve somehow already figured out this shiny magical portal in order to read this…) have clearly had enough of the Roadburn Festival being rooted to its Tilburg home and decided to instead bring the mountain to Muhammad with the release of this glorious 2-track free EP, which celebrates their showcase of both bands at last year’s ‘Roadburn Records’ gig at The Roxy in Hollywood. Lining up that night against evolutionary black metallers Enslaved and prog-titans Astra, Earthless and White Hills have on this evidence seemingly kick-started a duel for the title of ‘Greatest Live Psych Rock Band in the World’. With just a single lengthy live track each from that night’s performance captured in a 20-minute explosion of energy, one can only assume that this sonic-based bout must have been called a draw on points.
Earthless is a three-piece jam sandwich from San Diego, hold the vocals. Their contributed track ‘Red’ is 12 solid minutes of their well-spread, trademark concoction: diverse bursts of jazz improv, bulldozer rhythms and damn heavy blues, all at a frenetic, frenzied pace. Mario Rubalcaba once again resumes his role of driver in a juggernaut of pure groove as his now legendary skin-bashing flows effortlessly and powerfully between fills, solos and shape-shifting beats. As ‘Red’ ploughs gloriously on he pushes guitarist Isaiah Mitchell to the limit of the six-stringer’s shredding prowess; the two squabbling like a musically married couple to get the very best out of each other’s gleefully individual solos and riffs. The criminally under-appreciated Mike Eginton is the glue that holds these two freakishly extravagant musicians together; his bass is allowed more space than usual to ebb, weave, shake and wobble without missing a single root note as the trio leave our planet long behind them forever. This is one of Earthless’ speedier tracks – along the lines of their past ‘Jull’ or ‘Demon Lady’ bites of lightning groove rather than the meandering 25-minute epicnesses of ‘Sonic Prayer’ or ‘Lost in the Cold Sun’ and yet every single second of it is a triumph of imagination and finesse.
If there’s one band in the psychedelic underworld who can give Earthless a run for their magic beans, it’s got to be White Hills. On ‘Under Skin or by Name’ the 3-man-crewed Brooklyn space shuttle led by mascara-clad frontman Dave W (no, not Mr Wyndorf) deliver us three and a half minutes of dust-fried enchantment; all trickled guitar layers and waterfalling cymbal atmospherics. After this point however, heavy-hitting drummer Nick Name decides that enough is enough and launches the trio into a pummelling kaleidoscope of collapsing stars, muscular shapes, hyperdrive speeds and gloriously Hawkwindian prog. Dave W’s silk-lined vocal chords breathe the repetitive title lyrics delicately down your ear canal again and again whilst his solos spiral off into distant nebulae and interstellar clouds as colourful as both his face paint and flares. Bassist Ego Sensation supplies the surging thrusts of heavy energy; her swaggering undertows fly thick, fast, strong and steady enough to keep the controls set to the heart of the sun. At just under 8 minutes, this once again feels too short and too sweet just when the tempos are really starting to open up, but if you’ve enjoyed any of the bands’ other recorded material, you’ll be far from disappointed.
If these two mp3s ever end up in a time capsule blasted away to some other inhabited galaxy far far away, the human race will soon surely become known as the universe’s craziest exponents of musical magic. However for those caught in a time-warp of their own for the past fifty years, it’ll paradoxically appear that not much has really changed: psych is as forceful a trend as it’s ever been. Either way, the Roadburn Festival has clearly landed successfully on Planet Hollywood with an almighty big bang – one that’s certainly a giant leap for all of the CAN-kind.
Scribed by: Pete Green