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Dead Sea Apes - Night Lands CD (album) cover

NIGHT LANDS

Dead Sea Apes

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.95 | 2 ratings

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TCat
4 stars Manchester psych/space rock band "Dead Sea Apes" started out as a trio of Brett Savage on guitar, Chris Hardman as drummer and Nick Harris on bass and have established themselves as an exploratory band mixing a certain element of post rock with their wandering psych trips on instrumental and blissful improvisational wanderings. Their February 2020 release entitled "Night Lands" is no exception to this, with 3 slow and wandering tracks, however now the trio has through time expanded to a quintet. This growth has been noticed in their music as it becomes fuller and more intense. From the original trio, Savage and Hardman remain, but have brought in Jack Toker on the bass and added keyboardist Alistair Reid and a 2nd guitar (to bring in a heavier post rock sense to the music) in Nik Rayne. Whether the addition of Rayne will be permanent or temporary is not made clear, but the extra guitar solidifies the overall sound of the band which gives the music more direction.

The fact that they have achieved this goal of mixing psych/space with post rock is quite evident in the slow burning "No Friends But the Mountains", a 21 minute track of dark, wandering guitars, that nevertheless develop their jam off of a more melodic line than what you might hear from the many other psychedelic bands that have emerged lately. The keyboards add a certain additional degree of psych sound to the music, smoothing out the foundation and allowing the guitars to explore more freely. This obviously gives more depth to the music, and the slow crawl of this long track gives them plenty of time to develop the sound that they are reaching for. The track is replete with slow developing passages that grow in intensity and the slowly back off again becoming more pensive. This formula repeats itself several times through the track, never really becoming abrasive, but still reaching a climax and then backing off of it smoothly. The changes through the long track are slow to take shape and can almost be unnoticed as the listener sinks into the music.

The music of these tracks is all generated from live, in-studio jams, all improvised with an overall nocturnal feel. The music is dark supposedly to give the impression that the listener is in familiar territory, but the darkness makes it seem unfamiliar and alien, allowing the mind to conjure up strange scenarios. "Night Lands", the 2nd track continues this style, beginning without drums allowing the musicians to slowly bring their minds together. Eventually, a slow percussive tap starts to slowly drive the music forward as everyone finds their place in the universe of this track. The music flows and slowly intensifies, this time promising a heavier payoff with the guitars becoming more impatient and the keys stirring things up with more purpose in their sound. Before 5 minutes, a post-rock style melodic riff finds its way into the fray, and the darkness becomes more threatening and dangerous. Things tend to back off around 8 minutes, but then psychedelic elements and effects drive the intensity up again and things eventually level out allowing the music to just flow along angrily.

The last track is "A Slow Heart Beats Hard" and begins with hard and heavy guitars churning out a riff while the keys spew forth a metallic and grinding layer. This one give the impression of being a thicker track from the beginning, taking things to a post-metal level, sounding like a "Pelican" jam with psych elements. This comparison eventually distances itself a bit by adding brighter keys to the dark guitars. Through it's relatively short duration of 9 minutes, the exploration in this track allows for little dynamic change, staying loud, murky and solid with bursts of melodic improvisation coming out from time to time over the grinding background. Even though the accompaniment is tonal, it almost acts as a drone over which the band members can freely begin to improvise when they want to do something that stands out.

This music is deep and dark, yet never really gets abrasive. It has the definite psychedelic vibe to it, but uses post-rock to keep a thematic flow to each track. Concentrating on the music will only put you into trance-like state that comes from the psychedelic aspect of the music, but the post-rock aspect adds the dynamic and direction so that it never really wanders off into aimless territory. It's not an album to put on for easy listening however. The music stays dark and never complex, but that is what you would expect. There is a level of enjoyment to it all though, and that allows the album to manage a 4 star rating, most of that coming from the use of both guitarists, and the keyboards just gives it all more depth.

TCat | 4/5 |

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