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Trip Lava - Ounds CD (album) cover


Trip Lava


Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.77 | 10 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars The Minnesota based TRIP LAVA is one of those labor of love projects brought about by a single artist with a vision. In this case it's Joel Lee who as a multi-instrumentalist, composer and psychedelic freak who loooooves to play with electronic gadgets! TRIP LAVA came about from a whole zany bunch of loose and free form sessions that mixed various guitar, bass and drum parts and then augmented with synthesizers and effects and i do mean a lot of them! Lee released "Oddball In The Corner Pocket" all the way back in 2007 and created a amalgam of styles i'd never heard performed in quite that way before. A veritable maelstrom of psychedelic rock, progressive electronic and Krautrock all swirling around in a psychedelic storm of sonic bliss. Be careful with this acid blotters! They might send you over the edge with this one :P

Lee followed up with his sophomore "Octatroid," another sonic storm of strangeness in full psychedelic regalia only this time in the form of a concept album, thus upping the ante in pretty much every way, shape and form. While an expected third album should've followed suit a few years later, in reality an eight year gap has passed since any TRIP LAVA musical madness but finally in 2018, the third album has arrived in the form of OUNDS, a fine return to form that takes more from the debut than the followup but retains its own identity and, of course, packed with all that magic mushroom mojo that TRIP LAVA has become known for. While the project was never scrapped, Lee has spent the last eight years in other musical projects ranging from different collective improvs to rejoining his 90s art punk band called Marcus Noise for a reunion. One of these collectives has been the Twin Cities Electronic Music Collective which was basically a bunch of guys with synths, gadgets and gizmos gathering together every month to let their inner freak flags fly like a Star Spangled Banner. Some of the results would end up on TRIP LAVA's third album OUNDS.

After years of being distracted by playing drums in other bands and that dreaded reality game called "a day job," Lee finally perfected his next installment on Shark Records which to my ears sounds like a nice middle ground between the debut and sophomore albums. The first most noticeable quality about OUNDS is that every track begins with an "O." Why? Because most of these titles have scrambled letters such as "Ouseh Of ORsmirr" instead of "House Of Mirrors." Once that initial quirkiness gets soaked in, it becomes apparent that there is much less emphasis on the guitar sounds that made the first two albums more rockin' in the free world. OUNDS is more atmospheric and ambient yet hasn't lost the steady beat and bass line grooves that aren't too far off from what the debut album utilized. OUNDS takes the electronic liberties of "Octatroid," however and creates extremely bizarre sonic constructs around the accessible beats and grooves. However as the fractalization of the music starts to ramp up much like the acid starting to hit, BIG TIME, the music can start to melt like a sugar cube in a cup of tea. Steady beats, tempos, timbres and dynamics can morph into gelatinous and amorphous sonic slimeballs that slink around like an intoxicated swarm of honeybees.

OUNDS is noticeably much mellower overall than the other two albums. However Ozric Tentacles type rock energy is abundant. There are more echoes, reverb, flange and processed sounds that layer over the ubiquitous loops, drones and oddball progressive time signatures. The album has a more vintage analog feel than the digitally crazed pair that preceded. Once again there are lots of sound collages, funky bass, synthesizers!!!!! and what sounds like drum machines as opposed to the bombast of the real things present on the earlier albums. There is also synth solo craziness, lots of pitch alterations, stereophonic ping ponging, cartoony noises strewn about and the usual layers of the sonic onion skins where each sliver of sound is doing its own thing independently with a grounding groove submerged beneath the mind freakery. While this one is not as schizoid as the previous two, it certainly hasn't lost any of its psychedelic to the max qualities. In fact the trippiness seems to have been set to overdrive.

TRIP LAVA lives up to its name, big time. It is truly an eruption and pyroclastic flow of major trippiness that not only utilizes some of the freakiest ideas but also implements them in creative ways in the production process which uses the production elements as basically extended instruments. Much like bands like Coil, Throbbing Gristle and other electronically oriented bands throughout the years have done but TRIP LAVA takes extreme liberties in just about every conceivable direction with not only the tones, timbres and timings but also in volume control, echo effects and the good old trusted sound bank of 21st century synthesizers! Of all the three albums, OUNDS is probably the safest for newbies to sink their teeth in. While the debut was more grounded than the second album, it too had its wild ass bursts of weirdness. Not that OUNDS doesn't but this one is less jarring and pacifies the soul rather than freaking the crap out of it! This is a project that is right up my alley. The bizarre psychedelic eccentric restlessness of it all captures my attention throughout as one creative passage segues into the next. Once again, this is all instrumental and pretty much flows like a continuous albeit scattered stream of thoughts. Another cosmic winner here!

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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