One of the repeated mantras that I trot out on this website is that I review the music I like and, to be blunt, ignore the music that doesn’t click with me. This is clearly a very subjective thing, and can also be something of a lottery according to mood and, I think to a large extent, what I’ve been listening to around the same time. I’m sure, in fact I know, that there are some killer albums that have slipped through my fingers and I just have to accept that… along with the idea floated by a friend lately that my favourite album of all time is probably sitting out there waiting to be heard, at which point it may lose its status…. hmmmm.
This rather bizarre opening paragraph is intended to go someway to explain that this album by Portuguese improvisationalist trio The Crazy Left Experience was one of those that arrived just at the right time for me. This is because the last few reviews I’d written were of quite difficult albums which, although I absolutely loved them, were nevertheless the sort that I had to dig deep to comprehend and work my way through. This, on the other hand, feels like one of those sets that has been put together effortlessly… the four tracks here flowing like a stream of acid from the speakers and forming pictures in front of me… yes that’s the difference… forming pictures FOR me. While these other albums were making me do the work, here The Crazy Left Experience are doing all the creative heavy lifting and letting me get on with the listening… that’s why it feels effortless!
This is evident from the first few bars of ‘Death’ which sets off at a lugubrious pace and draws me in straight away with it’s warm and welcoming riffs and soporific rhythm section, if this is death then it is without the sting… Gradually the band pick up the pace with the tracks solidity allowing the space guitar to head off onto all manner of cosmic explorations, coming back towards the end to allow for some stunning bass lines to emerge… this is a real shared effort with all three members giving each other the room to develop.
Well if that was death then gimme some ‘Destruction’. From the outset this feels darker, the bass really colouring the mood before the whole band kick in….
…quick geek aside here… the edge and separation of the instruments here is really fabulous… even on the digital download there’s really something noticeable here about the way that the album has been recorded and mastered… so well defined and clear…
Normal service resumed, but there’s a point to this and its links back to the seeming effortlessness of this album. The excellence of the recording is yet another factor that just makes this music such a joy to listen too. Now there’s plenty of well recorded music that is just bland and awful… I’ve been to hi-fi shows I know this. This is not one of those records, and as the band lose themselves in this fifteen minute epic so do I. There are riffs galore, and listening to it I go off on my own flights of fancy as The Crazy Left Experience shift up though the gears here and deliver something that I don’t really want to end… and just when you think it is about to it drops into a bass-led ravine and drags your mind down a few notches and really makes you think. This is no run of the mill space rock, this is thoughtful and mindful, and only repeated listens are going to really bring the fullness of this out.
With most bands who purport to play this sort of music the quiet bridge is then followed by a return to previous themes and a massive ending that kind of sounded like the beginning. Not here, this is different as the band explore their sound differently and to great effect, again with the bass at the centre of things. Brilliant!
‘Magic’ returns to the effortlessness, in all the ways previously described. This has slightly more of a jazz edge to it, again that bass… I know I keep on about it but ooooh maaaan! I don’t want to deconstruct this too much because it’s fine just as it is, but I think I also need to acknowledge the role that the drums play here as well. The jazz influence seems to come primarily from this and as the track progresses this is in harmony with the soaring guitar and the heavy tanking bass which gives a terrific mix of tension and consonance which seem to be well balanced giving the band just the right mix of drive and delicacy.
In between ‘Destruction’ and ‘Magic’ on the vinyl album lies ‘Song For Rosa’. This feels like a very different sort of track to the other three, much more introvert and considered number. This is in no way a bad thing, rather it adds a further dimension to what is already and album that is certainly not in any way ‘run of the mill’. There’s crashes, drones… there’s space and abstraction… there’s the sound of fragmentation and decay… and then… it’s over… it just finishes and leaves you feeling somewhat bereft. I initially wondered why it was not the last track on the album but now thinking about it you need the ‘Magic’ at the end because otherwise it could leave you adrift in a dark place… ‘Magic’ brings you back.
When I first listened to this album it I was slightly distracted and really wondered what it was all about, it didn’t at first sound that special. Now I’ve has a chance to sit down with it I realise that there’s something different going on here. There’s a real depth to the music there is also an lightness to it that makes it an easy album to listen to… just don’t be deceived by this because it’s also substantial… give it time… let it grow and it will give you more than you ask.
‘Death, Destruction and Magic’ is available now on Adansonia Records here, with a choice of:
– 350 x white/black marbled vinyl, 180g, hand numbered
– 150 x black/white splatter vinyl, hand numbered.
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