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Soma Planet - Bholenath CD (album) cover

BHOLENATH

Soma Planet

 

Eclectic Prog

3.96 | 19 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Spanish act Soma.Planet released a genuine prog gem for our contemporary times with their 2008's album "Bholenath". Spain had already nurtured some great prog material for the year 2008 via October Equus' "Charybdis" and Planeta Imaginario's "Biomasa", among others, and now it is my time to get acquainted (a bit late.) with Soma.Planet's sophomore venture. The band manages to improve on their already great debut album by building up a basic sound that emphasizes the original variety and focuses on a more powerful use of musical imagination in the compositional ideas. "Bholenath" is a massive joy of a listening experience, let me tell you that right now. The 8+ minute long opener 'Psicorickshaw' starts with an intro of familiar traffic sounds before the ensemble kicks off in a well-crafted display of jazz-prog that clearly inherits elements from Gong and National Health with some slight Zappaesque extra dynamics; not being a one-dimensional track, it also provides room for a slow psychedelic rock motif somewhere in the middle. Near the end, the track assumes some fusionesque airs that work very fluidly throughout the closing climax. The title track endures on the old fashioned psychedelic road, featuring a magical combination of prominent acoustic guitars and heavily cosmic synth deliveries, solidly kept on by a jazz-oriented work by the rhythm duo. 'Meetings At Dawn' is an effective atmospheric intro for 'Kali - Destrucció', one of the most incendiary pieces ever written by the Soma.Planet guys. The track's main body is an intrepid exercise on 73-75 King Crimson-meets- 72-74 Gong: the wild catchiness of the guitar's riffs and strummed chords meets a perfect foundation in the drum's tempo (mostly 7/8). The track slows down a bit for its middle section, but it is a resource for the re-elaboration of its basic impetus, all the way up until the reprise that makes the frantic coda. 'Kali- Lament' makes a much more languid statement by bringing out a mixture of Sigur Ros' melancholic vibe and krautrock-ish introspective ambiences. 'Abstract Passage' is, well, an abstract passage of weird guitar and sax effects laid on a monotonous set of tribal drumming, all items flowing together in a mysterious vein. The sequence of tracks 3-6 is really exciting, a masterful example of the band's favorite influences as well as sonic interests. 'Tangle' bears a mixture of 80s Crimsonian neurosis and rough stoner rock (like a brother of Psicotrópica or a cousin of Poseidótica): the complexity developed during the track's latter half is controlled enough as to not kill the raw energy that remains consistently driving the instrumental scheme. 'My Being Forgets' finds the band returning to their more relaxing side: with the clean acoustic guitar arpeggios, precise contrabass pounds, colorful percussions and soaring flute lines, things confidently flow through pastoral moods seated on a soft jazzy framework. It is a good thing that this track doesn't even get to the 4 minute mark, but it surely leaves you wanting more. It may be easy to notice some sort of tribute to the folkish side of Amon Düül II in this track. There is also a prominent role for acoustic guitars in 'Infinite Intuition', but it is the steel guitar that steals the limelight from the very moment that it gets in. Almost bordering on 70s country-rock for its 2 minutes, this piece eventually lifts off in order to explore the psychedelic side of things, although there is no contrast but a natural flow in the way that the arrangements are set. There is also some room for a Crimsonian jazzed-up jam revolving on an unusual signature, as it is usual in this band's repertoire. A brief synth solo gets in, providing an unsettling increase of the track's ever-growing punch. 'Electrorain' is the most vivid krautrocker in the album: stating a hybrid of Neu!'s visceral power and Faust's Dadaistic jolly in the shape of a short instrumental, Soma.Planet finds a way to instill a moment of ad colorfulness in the album's repertoire. During 10 ½ minutes, 'Segments' turns out to be the most expanded segment in the album. Bringing more of that recurrent combination of King Crimson and Canterbury-oriented jazz-rock with a heavy twist and psychedelic overtones, the band stages a revamping strategy of the moods we have already found in tracks 4, 7 and 9. All in all, the result comprised in this track is a bit more majestic than usual regarding the hypnotic middle section. The sung section slows down things a bit, going for a more reflective mood without being really slow - for this portion, the band flirts patently with the standards of acid folk plus extra touches of post-"Takko" Sigur Ros. The album's closure 'Diving Deep' is an exercise on musique concrete that provides a moment of industrial unrest for the ending: it really is a contrast against the candidness that had been enhanced in the second half of 'Segments'. The bizarre aura of 'Diving Deep' signals the band's interest to revive the eclectic possibilities of psychedelic art-rock. As a whole, "Bholenath" incarnates the sort of excitement and creativeness that one keeps on expecting from good prog rock music at any stage of its history - since this one was made in the new millennium, it would be fair to point out that Soma.Planet is a solid hope for the present and future of prog.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |

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