I wonder whether vinyl is/will be the last bastion of ‘the grower’, LPs that don’t necessarily make you leap out of your chair, cast aside your crutches and duck-walk down the main street playing air guitar at the first listen. Why would you stream something you don’t like more than once? I’ve caught myself just flicking through MP3s judging tracks, or even whole artists, on 15 second bursts, but because LPs are so Goddamned expensive you make more of an investment in them and the cover art is that much bigger and brighter, so I think you’re more inclined to give them a second, third, fourth go. It’s how I’ve found many of my favourite albums, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold us Back, Kid A and The Dreaming included.
I recently had a similar experience with Earthless Rhythms From A Cosmic Sky. I was bullied into investigating this band by a certain Mr J.Hubner73* and the fact that they were on Tee Pee records, did them no harm at all in my eyes and neither did the fact that their drummer, the brilliant Octopus-like, Mario Rubalcaba was a fave of mine from Off! and Rocket From the Crypt. Add in the ace gatefold psychedelic art of the LP and the fact it was pressed on sexy red vinyl and I was in.
I bought it, ogled it for a bit and played it a few times without it ever really biting. Sure the playing was absolutely top-notch, as you’d expect from three dudes who dare to put out an instrumental rock LP and I like side-long tracks as much as the next stoner**, but … it never did quite grab me by the short and curlies. All until the last few days actually, every time I’ve played this recently it has really got through to my soft white underbelly.
First up a misconception: that three gnarly dudes, some wild guitarage and a swirly, smoky space cover = stoner rock. Have a good listen to either track (side?) on Rhythms From A Cosmic Sky will soon put the lie to this. First track ‘Godspeed’, handily split for us into 5 separate movements, starts with all the swirly feedback and vibes you could want and then as guitarist Isaiah Mitchell steps up to the plate the track just explodes into explosively fast riffage, in fact there are bits of this track that put me in mind of Iron Maiden circa Piece Of Mind, it is that heavy. This isn’t the languid, doomy affair that I’d associate with stoner rock at all – in an interview Rubalcaba calls it coffee rock, the guys in the band being mucho caffeinated, rather than mucho stoneo in the making of it. It’s a good description, you can hear a certain, kinetic, frenetic quality throughout this LP. We may be heading for nirvana via expansive instrumental enlightenment, but Earthless are taking the express elevator there, thank you.
Let’s face it Rhythms From A Cosmic Sky is as out-there as you could possibly wish for. I hear more of the likes of Amon Düül II and the, totally MF cosmic, Acid Mothers Temple, than the usual Black Sabbath tropes. Listen to ‘Sonic Prayer’ and you really could be listening to a heavier Cream, or even occasionally the Jimi Hendrix Experience in a really bad mood^. I would also like it recorded here, for the record, about the record that Mike Eginton is a really amazing bassist too. That three musicians can get such a great, fat, warm sound without, to my ears at least, much/any studio trickery is a thing of wonder for me, that they rock so hard doing it provokes foaming at the mouth in me.
So if you know what’s good for you, light up the candles and bless the room, take a good swig of Java and hit the volume, I guarantee you won’t fall asleep to the sound of Oeufless.
*he threatened my livelihood, the lives of my cats and to call me really nasty names unless I bought it. I’m very susceptible to name-calling, so I bought it.
**Blown Away Drifting Way Out Between Suns, from 2014 being a particular recent favourite of mine, which I’ll get around to writing about one day.
^I sort of borrowed those comparisons from that Hubner fella, but it’s okay I doubt he’ll notice.