In the last two months I’ve been tasked with reviewing two bands from the same location of the globe, I would have used the term ‘corner of the globe’, but as globes are spherical, having corners is pretty much redundant in the scheme of things. Never the less, both The Pilgrim, and todays subjects under the microscope, Mr. Bison, are both exports from the one and only Italy. Now my knowledge of Italian bands is quite limited, and as a fan of Lacuna Coil, if anyone ever asks for an Italian band, that’s my go to, but I can happily say, for future reference, I can now add both The Pilgrim, and Mr.Bison to that list. All I need now is a good pub quiz round on international psychedelic bands, and I will be all set.
In my comparing of both of the bands, I can make a few close comparisons. Both make retro, trippy music, which harks back to perhaps an easier time musically, and both bands delve in to the iconic sounds of the late sixties, and early nineteen seventies, they’re both heavily stripped back, and both are of a trippy rock persuasion.
This is where the comparison starts to deviate into two separate paths. Where The Pilgrim is more of an eclectic trippy acoustic affair, Mr. Bison throw in to the mix two parts retro trippy, with one part psychedelic post rock, to form something less laid back, and more current in its approach. It’s still wonderfully unique though, and both bands both reach a fantastical outcome none the less.
Just to fill in the gaps, in case you don’t already know the band, Mr. Bison is formed of a trio of Matteo’s, we have Matteo Barsacchi, whom alongside Matteo Sciocchetto, both fulfill vocal and guitar duties in unison. And when I say ‘in unison’, just listen to the album, and you will hear the perfect combination at play, neither outshines the other, and it’s hard to tell where one Matteo ends and the other one begins. Matteo D’Ignazi completes the trio on drums, sound effects, and occasional vocal, where needed.
Where’s the bass I hear you cry. Well, Mr. Bison, like a Jedi, needs not these things. The combination of twin guitar and bass drum works so well together, you don’t even notice the absence of bass guitar. I could hark back to a specific album by a specific American thrash band in the nineteen eighties, and comment that they pretty much dropped out the whole bass line for an album, and no one even noticed at the time. I could also say that when it’s made right, and produced and mixed properly, you can forgo the bass element if you want to, and it will not lessen the quality of the opus, but that is so evident here, that I would only be wasting my own time in saying it. Or maybe I wouldn’t. Either way, Mr. Bison make it work.
This has been the way of Mr. Bison since inception, and they’re now on the verge of releasing album number four in October of twenty twenty. Seaward is the next logical step on from previous album Holy Oak, released in twenty eighteen, and it sees our heroes in twenty twenty, riding the surf of the current world crisis, and taming the beast musically.
This seven-track thrill ride will leave you wanting more, and even with just seven tracks, it clocks in at around forty minutes, so there’s still plenty of bang for your buck, so to speak.
The beauty of this album is that no track is any weaker than its predecessor. It’s hit after hit of top-quality tunes, and it flows through with such incredible fluidity, it’s easy to forget just how easy it is to listen to until you reach the end, and will want to start again. The musicianship is absolutely first rate, its rich and vibrant, and at times completely mesmerising. It’s easy to forget what you’re doing, and just stop to admire the Bison’s at play.
it’s sonically enticing, and the psychedelic prog rock styling’s take you on a trip…
Right from opener Seaward you’re pulled in, an early heavy start makes way for a richer, trippier ride, it’s sonically enticing, and the psychedelic prog rock styling’s take you on a trip that’s very rare to find in the majority of modern music. It’s hard to pigeon hole who Mr. Bison sound like particularly, so it’s better to not even try, and let the music speak for itself.
The need for any full-on face melting heaviness, like most modern music that slots in to a rock and heavy metal category, is replaced with luxurious rhythms. When the driving guitar makes its presence known, you’re so ‘in the moment’ that the only thing you notice is the quickening of your heart, as the pace moves in to overdrive.
Tracks like From The Abyss really showcase the eclectic and trippy side of Mr. Bison, while I’m The Storm and Oudeis are both overblown slabs of awesomeness. They really show just what the band are capable of, and their undeniable swagger truly sets them apart.
If tracks such as Underwater and The Curse are anything to go by, then hopefully the future is very bright for Mr. Bison indeed. On an album full of absolute quality, these are the two tracks that resonate with me the most, the musicianship and quality of playing is an absolute pleasure to hear, and the slowing in pace to truly capture the work is sublime. There’s no rush to get to the end, time is taken, and the opportunity to have flourishes and prolong the joy are evident throughout.
If you’re looking for something aggressive and overpowering then you need to avoid this, this isn’t the album you’re looking for, but if you appreciate masterful musicianship, and well orchestrated pieces of musical ecstasy, then my friends, you have come to the right place.
After hearing Seaward, my next stop is going to be jumping on to the twenty-first century musical portal that is ‘Bandcamp’ to source out previous releases, because if Seaward is anything to go by, pleasure awaits. In the final third of twenty twenty there’s still so much left to embrace from music, and hard working bands, and if you’re in the mood for something new, that you’ve maybe not tried before, I recommend Mr. Bison most highly.
Scribed by: Lee Beamish