Sometimes, and when I say ‘sometimes’, I mean on an odd, rare and beautiful occasion, you put on a record and instead of simply hearing and experiencing the music it transports, you get to actually feel the same happiness that its creators felt as they lovingly crafted and recorded that vinyl’s sacred contents. ‘Golden Void’ is one such record. This “new” band, led by guitar-vocal maestro Isaiah Mitchell (Earthless/The Freeks), has in fact existed in one manner or another since the various members’ teenage years. Now releasing their debut full-length after many years spent plying their trade in various well-celebrated Californian rock acts, Golden Void are a slick, skilful and experienced proposition who manage to retain and express the love and emotion in their music that has surely remained since their very first jam.
Also featuring Aaron Morgan (bass, Eyes, Roots of Orchis), Justin Pinkerton (drums, Eyes, Roots of Orchis) and Isaiah’s wife Camilla Saufley-Mitchell (keys, Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound), Golden Void capture the sunny side of psychedelic rock, the ethereal side of stoner rock and the groovy side of folk rock all at once. ‘The Curve’ and ‘Virtue’ both rock riffage as hard as any of Isaiah’s stellar axe work with mighty experimentalists Earthless, whilst ‘The Art of Invading’ and ‘Atlantis’ show off his sublime Dickie-Peterson-meets-Dave-Wyndorf knack of completely nailing the outer-cosmic approach to vocals. If you insist on band-wise comparisons here, (and I’d urge you not to) think along the lines of The Atomic Bitchwax, Blue Cheer and even Cream, but Golden Void do just manage to capture that Sunday evening on a sun-kissed beach feeling in their own unique musical way; one which really needs to be heard for its own merit.
This self-titled opening dose of their medicine eases the pain of all the god-awful music that’s shoved in our faces as we try to live our simple lives in a celebrity-fuelled ego-circus. Sonically, it couldn’t be a more refreshing tonic and comes topped with the fizz of high-end musicians doing what they do best. Pinkerton is a revelation behind the kit – his jazzy over-fills on the softer sounds of ‘Jetsun Dolma’ and ‘Badlands’ soothe the soul as Isaiah’s guitars dance around his free-flowing rhythm like Darcy Bussell on an acid-trip in Heaven. Camilla’s keys aren’t always completely distinctive, such is the liquidity of the blend of blues and hard-rock throughout, but her building of atmospheres on ‘Badlands’ and ‘Shady Grove’ are so essential that it’s impossible to imagine how these songs would feel as simple guitar-bass-drum tracks. Morgan is solid from start to finish on the bass, playing tight to Isaiah’s faster riffs and exploring his own ground when the tempo drops and Pinkerton allows him room mid-way through ‘The Curve’ and epic closer ‘Atlantis’.
Some of the songs feature heavy subject matter and darker undertones. ‘Jetsun Dolma’ examines devotion through the use of Tibetan Buddhism’s 21 Taras, whilst on ‘Atlantis’ Mitchell sings about rising seas cleansing the earth of people and culture. But overall I’d try not to get too hung up on themes as the rocking and rolling joy is too good to miss out on! ‘Virtue’ packs some seriously heavy fuzz underneath Isaiah’s otherworldly cries and Pinkerton’s heaviest hitting, whilst ‘Shady Grove’ is an instant favourite with its organ-backed grooves and treacle-sweet choruses. Isaiah solos strongly throughout, but if you’re expecting the indulgence of another Earthless record, look elsewhere as this is all so much more about the full band aesthetic – playing music that you love with those whom you love along for company.
It’s always strange to begin writing a conclusion when it feels like you’ve barely scratched the surface on what it has to be said is a completely enjoyable rock album. Golden Void feel like they have so many influences – my girlfriend commented that they reminded her of Audioslave, which isn’t actually far off – but after repeated listens and speaking to Isaiah himself (which you can read in the interview that accompanies this review here) I’m convinced that the band’s only influences are themselves. As ‘Atlantis’ fades out through its multiple movements, you can feel it touch base with a whole host of musical tastes, and whether you grew up on a diet of Bob Dylan or Kyuss, there will be something here that makes you smile. Heavy music has too many black voids, dark voids, deep voids and doomed voids already to keep us down and miserable, give yourself a break and slip into a Golden one instead.
Scribed by: Pete Green