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Psicotropia - Grog CD (album) cover

GROG

Psicotropia

 

Eclectic Prog

3.65 | 9 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Psicotropia is one of the most exciting bands to arise from the Spanish art-rock scene of our time. I own the Luna Negra's 2007 edition of "Grog", a double pack that comprises the CD itself plus a live DVD taken from a 2005 show in Madrid. The DVD shows the band exploring its rockiest side, as well as some occasional antics by bass player Jaime Mariscal. Let's check the CD itself. "Grog" is less expansive but more cohesive and focused than the band's very good debut effort "Psicotropia" - now we can tell that this power trio have reached their own musical maturity, and from now on, they will have to find their own way to evolve so their music can remain a very interesting item in conteporary prog. The material contained in "Grog" is concentratd upon the influences of contemporary King Crimson, Primus, Tool and the less classicist side of prog-metal, wrapped in a modern sound that is alternately inspired by the schemes of math-rock and the melancholy ambiences of post-rock. Now... let's check the repertoire. The first two tracks are notable examples of how to display energy and intelligent complexity with metallic-based riffs that alternate repetition and variation in a consistent manner. 'V˙' has enough ctachniess as to capture immediately the empathetic listener's attention: the ballsy drive created by the three instrumentalists is taken to a different level once the variations emerge along the way. 'Zas' has less lyrics (in English, by the way) and more instrumental developments, building a solid bridge betwwn prog metal and psychedelia. So far, we can res tassured that the band's energy is exploited on the convincingly powerful use of riffs and disturbing harmonies and not so much on pyrotechnics (not that these are not skillful musicians, because they obviously are): it seems as Psicotropia's main leit-motif is one of integral conjunction and not one of individual features. The intro motif of 'Quasar' is very Primus-esque, an undeniable fact, indeed, with the sung passage built on a blues tempo performed in an aura of hard rock. This highlight ends with a reprise of the opening motif. 'Leuven' is a semi- ballad that finds the band coming down to less expressionist realms, setting a melancholy mood of introspection in both music and lyrics. Psicotropia knows how to elaborate more simple rock structures without getting into the usual patterns of comercially accepted pop-rock. Pablo Tato's leads bear a very emotional essence, stuck right between two candid interludes. The use of a backup of strings helps this song to acquire some sort of artistic sophistication, not overwhelming, subtle but, in the end, easy to notice. After this introspective oasis, comes a new version of the instrumental 'Cinco Mundos': although loyal to the art-rock nature of the original version, this one brings a funky vibe that makes it sound less heavy. Bassist Jaime Mariscal assumes the leading role for this one in a very effective way. The sense of storm and fire that had been so solidly displayed in the first 3 tracks returns with a vengenace in 'Pájaro', another highlight of the album. The contrast between the most intrepid instrumental passages and the eerie moments is very well accomplished, which only comes to show how cleverly these guys are capable are of creating variety with three instruments and moderately complex compositions. The final moments are definitely a tribute to 73-75 era King Crimson, an obvious salutation to helpless fans of good old prog. 'Nana Negra' is a very beautiful ballad marked by the Spartan acoustic gutiar chords and the emotionally charged singing by Tato. The song's dramatic vein is conveniently enhanced by the string section textures that appear as a hermetic background, a detail that may remind the listener of the Sigur Ros prototype to a certain degree. The namesake instrumental closes down the album in a very exulting mood. This number mixes jazz, experimental metal and psychedelia with an added touch of humour: yet another example of thi band's devotion for Primus, metallic rock and KC. A very good wa yto end an excellent album. Psicotropia's "Grog" deserves this 4 star rating.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |

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