[Riot Season,]

[Riot Season,]

Does The Cosmic Shepherd Dream of Electric Tapirs?
[Space Age Recordings,]

Though the days of flower power, long guitar solos and psychedelia are long-gone for some, there are still outfits that simply refuse to let their love for the long song structure die.

I know less than nothing about Finnish trio Pharoah Overload, but that doesn't prevent me from loving their new release "3" to death. Their type of tripy trance-like instrumentals put me into a world that is simpler, a world that spins in circles over and over and over and over again. I hate using comparisons, but Can's early albums must have had some effect on this outfit. The repetitious guitar riffs courtesy of Janne Westerlund and Aki Peltonen [who seems to be a special guest on this record] pour over Tomi Leppanen's steady percussive rhythms. The backbone is held together by the cyclical but up-front and pulsating bass playing of Jussi Lehtisalo. Together, as one, this band rocks in a very numbing way. This is trippy music that is sure to mess with your mind as much as it messes with your ears. Even when they proceed to blow the speakers with excessive feedback as they do on "Autobahn", the music still retains a very warm and loopy feel. I can't remember the last time I'd loved a trippy rock record as much as I do "3". Is it safe to call Pharoah Overload the new trance-rock kings for the new millennium?

Though the next batch of releases from Acid Mothers Temple is anything but trance-like, both of them still retain a fresh feel of psychedelia and both favour the long form of song as a means to an end. "Minstrel in the Galaxy" may begin with an echo-like introduction, which sounds equally serene as it is creepy, but the album itself is a mixed smorgasbord of styles. These guys don't really know [and don't really care, I suppose] if they want to play freak-out music, acid-rock, metal, or if they just want to trip out and do loops on their instruments. With plenty of synths, reverb and echoes thrown in for good effect, the end result is spooky rock music. What's there not to love? After all, Acid Mothers Temple is one of the reminders of the times when rock musicians were willing to experiment and bring in "foreign" elements into their music. Some may call this orchestral rock. All I'll say is that it's perfect listening for those long trips into the centre of your own mind [or for Halloween for that matter].

An even trippier recording arrives in the form of "Does The Cosmic Shepherd Dream of Electric Tapirs?" The pure fact that abundant vocals are featured on this record makes for a more varied listening experience. "Hello Good Child" sounds like some sort of a space-age love ballad. It comes complete with lovely back-up vocals and brilliant synths that make you bend at the knees with luscious amounts of love. One of my favourite tracks on the CD is "Dark Star Blues", which is basically a 25 minute free-for-all, blending in fusion, prog-rock, bleeding heavy amounts of feedback, some Japanese [or English, I can't tell] vocals and weird echoes and effects that pop out from nowhere. It's the concept that's just as important as the form. Who said acid rock was dead?

Tom Sekowski

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