Atomic Simao are a band who I have been following for a while now. I was very happy to get their ‘Nōdo’ album almost by chance from Cardinal Fuzz in 2013, and then as a result of that I reviewed the band’s ‘Echo‘ album in 2016. So it seems only right that, now 2019, has come along that I look at their latest release, ‘Levitation Loom Four’.
I almost feel destined to cover this, quite apart from the three year gap thing. This album first come out back in December 2018, but with a promise of a vinyl release to come I thought that I’d wait… despite liking it very much. I’m really I did when one of my favourite labels Adansonia Records announced that they were giving it the wax treatment.
However there is something else going on here; something which I have to admit that I wasn’t quite expecting. When I decided to move my writing over from Psych Insight Music to here it was because I felt that I was moving away from what could purely be regarded as ‘Psych’ music. Many of the labels that I followed were always broader than that anyway, but…
The first two Rocket Recordings albums (Paisiel and DJINN) have been much more obviously jazz influenced, as has two of the recent Adansonia releases (and my review of Electric Octopus will appear on these pages soon). This, together with the burgeoning London jazz scene that was the final ingredient for my website change, there seems to be a direction of travel. Questions abound: Is jazz back? Was it ever away? Is music changing or am I?
The reality is that if you look back over previous reviews jazz seems to have been creeping more and more into the music I am listening to… but it also seems to be emerging more and more into the bands and labels that I have been into.
Atomic Simao are a case in point as this is arguably the most jazz-influenced album that they have brought out yet, on a label that definitely has had it’s moments with the likes of both Electric Orange and Kungens Män having many such elements to their music… but probably nothing as overt as this… and I love it!
The album opens with ‘Kalypso’ with the five-piece from Kyiv in the Ukraine getting right into the groove with a total banger of a track which just powers it way out of the traps and puts a smile all over my face. This is perhaps the difference in what I have been listening to lately… because there is something open and light about this music… I just want to get up and dance to this… it’s a bit of a tonic after listening to so much music that is heavy and considered.
After that ‘Chemical Time Machine’ begins with a really cool bit of sitar, exuding Indian atmospherics as the track settles down into the sort of beat that would not be out of place of Asteroid #4’s self-titled album (the one that made my ‘Essential’ list in 2014) especially when it breaks out into an unholy wig-out halfway through. So while this feels like a bit of a diversion, and maybe a step into my music past… it’s just too good to ignore.
As ‘Warped’ starts you think that you’re heading off on some sort of space trip, and there is an element of the Kosmische about this track. However I would say that the heavy bass and the sax take it off somewhere else, and feels to me very reminiscent of the most recent Comet is Coming album… which definitely has it’s spacey moments.
However, it is with ‘Words of Trouble’ that this already great album really takes off for me. Featuring the wonderful voice of Katiko Purtseladze this track really just soars.. almost like a jazz standard but with enough added on to take it somewhere else. The interplay of vocal and sax here is just amazing. While listening to it I really wondered how I would have reacted to this track during any of the previous six May months that I have been writing about music… because it is an area that I thought I had left behind. However, this track has really caught my zeitgeist and that is surely all that matters.
‘Paper Towers’ is a proper funky tune which kicks off with some ace organ which stays with the track pretty much for the duration. Close your eyes and you are whisked away to some cool club where you can dance until dawn and then the rest… a track to really get up and groove… yeah! Every bit as crazy as ‘The Fox’ from the ‘Echo’ album… one of my absolute favourites from the band.
Following on from that ‘Flashing Meadows’ lets you down easy with its chilled out vibe… like much of the album there’s nothing revolutionary here… but, like everything that Atomic Simao do, it’s wonderfully played and judged just right. Yes this is laid back, but it doesn’t go over your head… it’s still a track to be heard!
…and then there’s ‘Herb’…
This is a real humdinger of a jazz track… I forgot to mention the trumpet on “Flashing Meadows’… here it’s the flute which really sets this number on the was. Some lovely syncopated motifs played out here in a funky style which, again, defies the listener to keep still… mind blown!
Last up is ‘Psychobell’ which is almost like a blaxploitation soundtrack number at times with it’s heavy beats and easy groove. the funky guitar and sax combine over the top to really just intensify the whole experience… a great end to a really top album.
With this album I find myself on the same sonic trajectory as Atomic Simao and Adansonia Records. It is not a place where I would have expected any of us to be, but I’m certainly going to take it as a sign that I may be on the right path… where that leads who knows. What I do know it that this is a great set that puts a massive smile on my face and makes me want to party… for some time at least the heavy doom-monger in me is cast to one side. In these current times that can only be a good thing.
‘Levitation Loom Four’ is available from Adansonia Records as follows:
– 222 x classic black vinyl, 180g, hand numbered
– 111 x transparent blue vinyl, 180g, hand numbered
Records come in fully matt-laminated thick sleeves and black padded inner sleeves. Click here for more details.
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