Review: Kaliyuga Express ‘Warriors & Masters’

I don’t think I’ve ever met a musician like Newcastle upon Tyne’s ultimate psychic space experimental drone jazz maximum guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Mike Vest, whose ongoing collaborations and contributions to/with other bands and solo work exceed all expectations. Vest‘s insatiable desire to collaborate with a variety of different underground artists/groups from all over the world knows no bounds. This is the secret of a man who is constantly evolving musically and is always looking for new stimulating ways to play his instruments and explore every type of music even outside his own musical genre.

Kaliyuga Express 'Warriors & Masters' Artwork
Kaliyuga Express ‘Warriors & Masters’ Artwork

His innate multiform eclecticism has always helped him to overcome every threshold of musical achievements. His life as a musician consists of a vast catalogue of collaborations and contributions for which he has always been praised and highly esteemed. From 2012 to today, he has brought his unique sound to over 100 albums and beyond. The beauty of it all is that he can easily blend his swaggering guitar sound with any genre of music; from cathartic and blasting chaotic sonic noise to exotic space shoegaze, experimental avant-garde and krautrock. For this reason, he can very well be defined as a real worldly musician, and in some contexts, a circus juggler.

There has always been something new in every collaboration he has been a part of and/or created. From the cacophonous guitar sound of Lush Worker to the explosive noise turbulence of Blown Out and Melting Hand. His music friendship with Zeni Geva, Mitsuru Tabata in Modoki, with whom he collaborates on two psych noise albums, is truly majestic. Not to mention his contribution with Japanese guitarist Junko Suzuki of Mienakunaru, with whom he layered his work on five albums all made of extreme noise mayhem reminiscent of Acid Mother Temple. His most interesting and fascinating project, Artifacts & Uranium, born with the eclectic musician Fred Laird (Earthling Society, Empty House) shows his gigantic creativity of exploring new ways of guitar expressionism.

His latest adventure that comes under the name of Kalyiuga Express (a name, probably, lent from country blues Swedish musician 1970 album of the same name ) is a collaborative work with Hämeenlinna, Finland, space traveller three-piece Nolla, who released a Self-Titled album in 2021. Kalyiuga Express’ debut album Warriors & Masters, in my opinion, seems to be a continuation of what Nolla have created with their past work, revealing nothing new other than the usual typical musical din suited to the one close to Mike Vest who, on this occasion, is bringing in a tuned guitar blasting a dilated loop that creates atmospheric landscapes across the three tracks.

a flowing, cathartic and enthralling maelstrom of sound…

Don’t get me wrong, but I’m somewhat perplexed by, and unsure of what Vest has added to the album musically. I would say that his name brings more attention with being a well-known musician, of course, however, this is all really. The opening track Nightmare Dimensions goes on and on into a never-ending hypnotic space rock drumming while the combusted thrashing guitars take you into those scary nightmare dimensions from which you’ll likely get away.

With the second track, Behind The Veil, they celebrate the good old stratospheric space mayhem so dear to Hawkwind. It’s a flowing, cathartic and enthralling maelstrom of sound already captured in the opening track. The last track, a long one that lasts nineteen minutes, throws you into an Endless Black Space, according to the song title. It all begins with a dry sweeping heavy kraut space sound with Otto Juutilainen screaming at the top of his lungs until halfway through when he’s interrupted by a cloak of otherworldly cosmic sounds.

It’s a deep space experimental ambient exploration that comes out of continuous guitar riffs until it all disappears into the, ahem, endless black space. A track that, sound-wise, is akin to Klaus Schulze’s Irrlicht meets Lee Ranaldo experimenting games of From Here To Infinity and the avant-garde hardcore experimentalism of Robert Hampson’s Main. As a dutiful collaboration with Nolla, after all, it’s not so bad if you consider that in Mike Vest’s mind, there are trillions of guitar loops that invade his majestic artistic savoir-faire. This is to be considered one of his musical diversions away from the more concrete immersive experiences that have happened so far.

Label: Riot Season
Mike Vest: Facebook | Bandcamp | Twitter | Instagram
Nolla: Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram

Scribed by: Domenico ‘Mimmo’ Caccamo