You know how I’m one of those dead wise dudes? you know, a bit of a seer type? well one thing I’m always really wary of is when a band you’ve liked for a long time release an LP and everyone fawns all over it and starts declaring, ‘it’s their best, most consistent collection of tracks since X’* and when you actually get around to it and the novelty wears off that you’re holding this artefact that your chosen gods have deigned to vomit in your general direction it ends up being ‘just not as wack as the last one’ and you just go back to playing the same old ones you always did anyway.  This generally cynically bleak outlook is precisely why I find myself, mostly, only writing about the distant past, which is a wonderfully hindsight-friendly place to be^.

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All of which means that when I declare Fu Manchu’s 2014 LP Gigantoid as their best, most consistent collection of tracks since California Crossing you can take it from me that I’m damn well telling it how it is and no mistake!  This is a band I love pretty unreservedly, their brand of sunny Californian auto-centric stoner magic has been brightening up my rain-addled existence for going on 16 years now.  If I could be a member of any current band I chose it’d be Fu, no hesitation at all, I think they’re just the coolest gang out there.

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Now even through the Shades of Adoration^^ that I, umm, look at listen to Fu Manchu with I struggle to make too much of a case for their last 3 albums, which is a decade’s worth; there are a couple of great moments in there, but nothing consistent enough for me.  Late one tipsy night my love overcame my hard-bitten expectations and I ordered Gigantoid, more in hope than anything else and boy has it paid off.  From the groovy collage artwork, the groovier song titles (‘Radio Source Sagittarius’ or ‘Robotic Invasion’, anyone?) and the groovily concentrated running time of 34 minutes, this is a winner.

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Music? oh we have a van load of that stuff here.  Opening track ‘Dimension Shifter’ is a gigantic-sounding beast which hits all the usual Fu Manchu tropes that I love, half-spoken vocal bits, massive bottom end and, at last, a real mean attack to the guitars – Scott Hill really sounds like he means it on this track.  I know the holy grail for all the stoner bands I love is a perfect amalgam of the two holy blacks – Sabbath and Flag, and the guys get real close here.  They get 1537 bonus points for chucking in a great slow-down section in the middle too which leads into a great solo from Bob Balch.

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Gigantoid is propelled skywards by the band’s best set of songs for a very long time in tandem with some great production by Andrew Giacumakis^*.  The bass sound of the album is particularly noticeable and, if it isn’t a contradictory thing to say, really lifts the whole LP; just listen to the opening bars of ‘Mutant’ or ‘The Last Question’ to hear what I mean.  In fact, let’s just groove on ‘The Last Question’ for a while, it is my favourite track here by far.  It starts off in a particularly in-your-face manner, one of those slower more muscular Fu tracks and then just takes a left turn into perfect desert groove territory, sort of Planet Caravanserai if you will, for half of its 8-minute length.  What I wouldn’t give to be listening to this at night in the Mojave, stretched out on the roof of my van with my best girl by my side and a beer in my hand … instead of here on my PC, late at night in my soiled too-tight Christmas pyjamas.

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So whilst we are at it, let’s have some more highlights – the hardcore attack of ‘No Warning’; the slow burn of ‘Anxiety Reducer’; the guitar tone of ‘Evolution Machine’ and the sprint finish of ‘Triplanetary’.  Can you tell I’m salivating yet? this is a really excellent excellent pile of stoner rocks.

Two years down and I’m still happily rocking Gigantoid and you should too – the seer hath spoken.

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686 Down.

PS: I’m starting to count the sleeps from now until I see them again in November.

PPS: Have some old stuff, unless I’m very much mistaken here are some kids stickin’ it to the man:

*where the value of X in this equation can be calculated as the square root of 1/2 a Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, multiplied by Metallica’s Black Album**, plus 781.

**which I don’t like very much, but that’s not the issue.

^or it could be a gnawing insecure pathetic desperation to be consensually right about everything; that is, if you agree?

^^SoA – they’re like a thing.

^*ex vocalist with Moab, fellow stoner doom merchants.

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48 thoughts on “Planet Caravanserai

  1. I love this one. One of my favourite albums from the last couple of years … For those that aren’t awfy familiar with the Fu, this is definitely a good place to start.

  2. Fu Manchu is a band I love when I hear them, and I don’t own a single album. Why? I dunno. I think I owned King Of The Road (is that the one, it had vans on the cover?) years ago but where it is now, who knows?

    Dammit 1537, are you spending my money again? Yes you are.

  3. My daughter saw the Ariel lego over my shoulder this afternoon and said “Daddy! I HAVE THAT ONE!” And she does! It was everything Little Mermaid, for a while there. It’s now My Little Pony. Things aren’t improving.

      1. I know, right. And if the music was as shrill as the ponies are… well honestly, we’d think it was hell but it’d probably be a Billboard top ten given the nits’ tastes in music out there…

  4. Sadly, I’ve never been a FuManchu fan. They’ve never really clicked with me. But then again, the whole desert/stoner rock thing was never appealing to me, either. T-top Firebirds, 8-tracks, and beer bongs…meh.

    But that is a lovely looking vinyl specimen.

      1. No way, he’s just a big corporate sell-out!

        I once saw a BBC documentary on non-Euclidian geometry at 4am when my son was teething.

      1. I kept very little of my Lego, but what I did keep is amazing. It’s the original (not the crappy new version) Jawa Sandcrawler. It comes with three Jawas, Uncle Owen and a bunch of droids. But the best thing about it, besides it being a Lego store exclusive, is that it’s entirely building by BRICKS. The old way! Not just panels, BRICKS!

  5. So here’s how far behind I am on Fu Manchu: Never heard this. But I LOOOOVE California Crossing. Which I haven’t reviewed but must review.

    And yeah that Evil Eye video is THE BOMB!

    Lovely vinyl and artwork. I need this.

    1. This is a really excellent LP, you can skip the three before this (their live LP is good, but I don’t own it) but this is well worth it.

      CC is a real all-timer for me – just love ‘Thinkin Things Over’. The semi-bootled ‘California Crossing Demos’ LP is also well worth grabbing too, it’s a lot rawer.

      1. What what what. California Cross demos? WTF? How have I never heard of this?

        The last Fu I got was We Must Obey. It was good but not super memorable like Cali Crossing or King of the Road.

      2. Limited to 1000 copies? Ahh hell.

        My Fu Manchu collection is far from complete, but I mean, I really loooove the whole era from In Search Of to the departure of Brant Bjork. I think Start the Machine was the first after Brant, but I just cannot get into it.

      3. I haven’t got the earliest stuff, I start at the one with the cool car on the cover that was a collection of some EPs (I’m too lazy to walk downstairs and find the title out!).

        Start was poor, i thought – too much punk, not enough rock and roll – it didn’t swing right.

      4. Scotty was also singing quite a bit differently on that to my ears.

        Godzilla’s Eatin’ Dust? Or was it No One Rides for Free? I have a lot of early Fu but I don’t listen that often so I don’t even know what I have. I DO have their 7″ single for Jailbreak.

      5. Return to Earth. That’s a cool 7″. They once played two of my shout-outs in a row at a gig – it was one of my fave gigs ever. They were such nice guys too. Just wish I could still fit into my Fu T-shirt without a corset!

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