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Walrus - Walrus CD (album) cover




Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.75 | 11 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars Comprised of members of Anglagard and Gosta Berlings Saga, the impressive little debut album from Norway's `Walrus' is so far relatively flying under the radar from what I can tell. Let's try and change that! What inititally comes across as quite repetitive, monotonous and underwhelming soon proves to be a slowly brooding, hypnotic mix of Krautrock, spacerock, electronic atmospheres, heavier moments and uneasy ambience. Slab-like bass, wispy veils of Mellotron, Mini-moog and Hammond, cello and two different drummers create an intoxicating mood, and while occasionally the band does get stuck in the same pattern for what seems like minutes on end, this all works toward a very hallucinatory and disorientating effect on the listener, slowly wearing you down and dragging you into the mud.

Opener `Tromso' is a frantic hypnotic run, quickly reminding of the repetitive dirty grooves of Neu, Can and even Steven Wilson's Incredible Expanding Mindf*ck project. Starting with strangled cello and distorted, harsh metallic obtrusive random noise percussion, leaping thick bass punches down on the listener like a mallet to the head. Some swirling spacey swoops join in as the rhythm grows in intensity, the tempo picking up and kicking into overdrive behind some of the most scratchy serrated Hammond this side of Elephant9 before collapsing in on itself in the dying final seconds.

`Signals' has a creeping approaching bass line, stalking it's way through the filthiest of swamps to get to you, taking on the same eerie and unpleasant soundtrack vibe of Goblin and Morte Macabre. Droning ambient electronic pulses and haunting Hammond touch on early Porcupine Tree, even Wilson's Bass Communion project. We move through disorientating, hallucinatory psychedelia behind a machine-like hum before the piece explodes out of nowhere at the five minute mark and tears off into deep dark space! The bass gallops along to catch up, the drums turn manic and the keyboards glisten before the final minute disappears into a shimmering reprise of the stalking opening.

`Spitsbergen' is the crowning achievement of the LP, full of scuzzy tension and hard-edged distorted outbursts, book-ended with some deeply sinister and ghostly choral Mellotron and a `Careful With That Axe...'-style lurking bass line. The piece kicks back from the dead with some snarling electric guitar heavy riffs, Hammond full of mystery, and a weeping 'Tron finale worthy of Anekdoten. Much of this track places the percussion/drumming centre stage, so confident and filled with purpose. I don't think the track really needed the almost metal riff moments, as it's plenty heavy as it already is, but it's another piece that fans of Morte Macabre will really appreciate. The cold yet beautifully fragile closer `Static' ends the album in a darkly jazzy manner, with skittering drum-work and staccato deep bass notes over the loneliest of crying cello.

Walrus don't incorporate different sounds and genres so much as blur those lines instead, and the results, while no classic and often clearly showing it's influences, makes for a very promising and occasionally excellent dark instrumental debut. I have no doubt a follow-up will be even stronger as there's so much potential here, and I can't wait to see where the band goes to next. Fans who like the idea of a looser instrumental version of gloomy downbeat prog like Anekdoten, Morte Macabre and the darker corners of Kraut and space rock and will find much of interest here.

Three and a half stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |


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