As part of the maybe-one-day-legendary live-but-recorded series put together out there in the desert, it might seem that Spirit Mother were a strange pick, but while they may not have the pedigree of the elders put out there under the lights, they certainly have the vibe.
Five minutes in they had me cursing my faulty brain as I thought I didn’t know what to expect from them, when in fact the debut album Cadets has been a warm psych zone-out record I’ve returned to a few times over this winter. And in their brief-but-to-the-point-set Spirit Mother played us mostly songs from the record, albeit in a different order, perhaps more suited to the live thing, plus a few that are presumably new songs or cuts that didn’t make the final product.
Spirit Mother seem like hip young cats who know where it’s at, and start their set sounding right, ringing out the violin that sets them apart from most Cal psych, building anticipation and mystery. The sound is sounding right and they slowly pick up momentum as they gather forces. Initially this is slacker-psych with perhaps a nod to Dead Meadow, slow and moody and deeply bedded in a world that has heard grunge and knows what that’s worth.
there is a distinct chance we’ll look back on this as an early gem from a band going places…
The re-ordering from the album is perhaps explained by this slow start, as their set seems to gradually pick up drive towards its midpoint in Martyrs and grow in fuzz and attitude from there. More so than on the record, the smoked-out vocals start to sound a bit limited, being more foregrounded here perhaps and less buried in reverb. Some passages of harmonised singing lighten this drawl at times, and indeed there’s little scope to criticise stoned singing in stoned rock.
Getting on into the set, the fuzz on the bass makes its own case for their place out by Skull Rock, and building on this the band set into Premonitions with a real swagger. Command of sound is reinforced by a shuddering acid-shiver or anaesthetic-come-on backward echo that is the sound of a hundred further moments in my spinning head.
From my window on the world, I’m wondering whether, like me, they just played it too cool when there was a good thing going, but Spirit Mother get in and get out with a sense of class, suggesting they may be around on the scene for a while. And even though the feel of this release, in the context of the other Live In The Mojave Desert recordings, is somewhat of a support band warming up for the main thing, there is a distinct chance we’ll look back on this as an early gem from a band going places.
Scribed by: Harry Holmes