Sonically, this album is the creation of a voodoo wizard, blending the intensity of Dr John with the spontaneous energy reminiscent of Hawkwind, albeit with a much darker edge. In reality, David Sphaèros is a multidisciplinary artist with a remarkable 30-year career. He is also the founder of the trippy garage band Aqua Nebula Oscillator, who shares label space with renowned acts like Nebula, Kadavar, and NAAM, to name just a few.
Possession marks Sphaèros‘ debut as a solo musician, and it immerses listeners in a swirling maze of intense rhythms, dreamy voodoo magic, and cinematic weirdness. There is even a series of videos to accompany each track. You can see the video for Void at the end of this review and check out the others over on the Tee Pee Records YouTube Channel.
While there are clear musical influences throughout the album, such as The Doors and the psychedelic grooves of 1960s and 1970s Germany, it’s important to note that this work is not derivative. Sphaèros‘ unique mystic touch is firmly imprinted on this album. What makes it even more intriguing is that just when you think you’ve grasped the essence of Possession, Sphaèros surprises you with sounds and ideas that shake your preconceptions. This is the essence of Sphaèros-rock, a multifaceted creation that deserves to be experienced as a cohesive album. Although, for the purpose of delving into its depths, let’s attempt to unpack it a bit…
Throughout the record, the rhythms are hypnotic earworms that revolve and swirl, while splashy drumming and fuzzy keyboards create a humid and dense sonic landscape. It’s a sonic journey that takes you on a round trip. For example, the second and title track, Possession, is the most straightforward psych-rock piece on the album, driven by a persistent, energetic buzzsaw riff that intertwines with screaming saxophones and wild tribal drumming. It’s undeniably fun.
the rhythms are hypnotic earworms that revolve and swirl, while splashy drumming and fuzzy keyboards create a humid and dense sonic landscape…
However, some of the album’s most profound moments emerge in its more abstract tracks. Vibration stands out musically by distilling the subtle depths of the album into a single track, drawing influences from Voodoo and progressive non-musical artists like Salvador Dali. The meandering organ sounds and intricate drumming weave and swirl, creating an atmosphere of intense unease.
The intention here is to immerse yourself in the overall mix rather than focusing on any particular instrument. Notably, the drumming is impressive it maintains a rigid foot on the kick drum, providing an anchor for the free-flowing jam. Adding to the surprise, frog sound effects make an appearance, further showcasing Sphaèros‘ elusive nature. Towards the end, Sphaèros himself contributes a reverb-laden spoken word segment in French.
Personally, I appreciate artists expressing themselves in their native language (not just Rammstein), as it adds a mystique of its own to the record. What is impressive about this album is Sphaèros‘ ability to create a soundscape that effectively transports the listener to an altered state. This can be partially attributed to his background as a multimedia artist, as he skilfully crafts an immersive experience. While the lyrical themes remain open to interpretation, there is a remarkable precision in the sound palette presented throughout the seven tracks that make up Possession.
It’s not a critique to say that it harks back to the communal settings of psychedelic rock, where the goal was to create a transformative experience, regardless of the path taken to achieve it. Furthermore, Sphaèros expands his musical palette beyond jazz or blues-inspired rock, incorporating ideas from diverse time periods and movements, which is an achievement in itself. This album may not be easy listening, but it certainly offers a very creative experience. Let’s hope there’s more where this came from.
Scribed by: James Bullock