ARTIST: Lay Llamas
RELEASE DATE: 15th June 2018
RECORD COMPANY: Rocket Recordings
It’s been four years since the release of Italian-based sonic manipulators ‘Lay Llamas’ sublime debut album ‘Østro’ on Rocket Recordings and since then their sonic manifestations have gone from strength to strength. Since the departure of Gioele Valenti (now with his own band – JUJU) ‘Lay Llamas’ have come solely under the command of Nicola Giunta who has reimagined their collective sound into something otherworldly, melding the rhythmic side of krautrock with afrobeat, neo-psych, electronica, spoken-word and experimental atmospherics. Having put out a number of smaller releases on labels such as Backwards, 4 Zero and ArteTetra, ‘Lay Llamas’ under Giunta’s guidance have played on the live circuit with some heavy hitters from the modern psych scene such as the infamous ‘Goat’ at London’s Roundhouse and effortlessly managing a sonic demolition job of some considerable force at Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia. Now they have returned to Rocket Recordings to unleash the latest chapter in this fascinating story. Their latest long player entitled ‘Thuban’ is an eight track sonic rollercoaster of unparalleled psychic abandonment featuring contributions from members of ‘Clinic’ and ‘Goat’ along with spoken-word contributions from Mark Stewart of ‘The Pop Group’ fame. ‘Thuban’ gets it’s official release on the 15th June 2018 and is available to pre-order right now on various formats via rocketrecordings.bandcamp.com
Melodic wind strewn instrumentation buffers and whirrs as the opening salvos of ‘Eye-Chest People’s Dance Ritual’ arrive pulling twinkling frequencies with it as swells of synth rise from deep below the mix. Metronomic drum patterns dance repetitively alongside the throb of melodic bass and sequenced electronics as those hazy vocalisations meander into audible range attached to woozy instrumentation and the pull of guitars. Instrumentally sublime, this opening track is deeply captivating and filled with sonic brilliance. Up next, ‘Holy Worms’ swirls into the ether strapped to a boundless swagger filled with busy drum patterns and the hypnotic sway of percussion. Funky bass progressions meander in and out of fizzing lines of synth, tremulous guitars and hypnotic sonic vibes as Giunta crafts something altogether spiritual in nature whilst ‘Silver Sun’ drones into existence on squally lines of electronic atmospherics and the gentle swing of fizzing reverberations before opening up into a charging rhythmic beast that rises and falls through walls of addictive instrumentation with relative ease. Manifestations of sax and pulsating bass progressions add distinctly addictive sonic flavourings to the track and they envelope another impressive vocal performance.
‘Cults and Rites From The Black Cliff (Ft. Clinic)’ is an instant album highlight. It’s darkly atmospheric beginnings pulse those penetrating bass frequencies out into the ether, unfurling heady waves of dystopian led sonics that loop and arc at will throughout. Distant wails of sax penetrate the hazy clouds of reverb and those menacing electronics as the metronomic pull of afrobeat and middle-eastern styled krautrock meets to form a brand new sonic singularity, moving as one collective that pushes a massive wall of delicious noise before it before finishing up dancing on a wave of sax and acoustic guitar. ‘Cults and Rites From The Black Cliff (Ft. Clinic)’ is absolutely mesmerising and worthy of your ears. Up next, ‘Altair’ features those magnificent sonic alchemists ‘Goat’ who provide a kind of psychedelic serenity alongside the fizzing psychedelic vibes created by Lay Llamas and this track doesn’t disappoint whilst ‘Fight Fire With Fire’ featuring the dystopian hued spoken-word courtesy of Mark Stewart hangs suspended in a sea of glitchy reverberations and pulsing electronic atmospherics. Crawling feedback laden frequencies pull repetitive percussion and throbbing lines of melodic bass into the mix, instantly injecting structure and clarity into proceedings. This is addictive, brilliantly produced and another album highlight for me.
The albums penultimate piece comes in the guise of ‘Chronicles From The Fourth Planet’ and this track title maybe feeds on one of the albums main themes. The albums press release stated that – “Dwelling in the night sky of the Northern hemisphere, Thuban (named after the Arabic for ‘snake’ also known as Alpha Draconis, and sometimes as the ‘dragon’s tail’) was the star closest to the North pole from the fourth to the second millennium BC. Yet in a migration that perhaps allows us to consider our own insignificance in the realm of the cosmos, its never-ending trajectory will mean that it will once again become the polar star by 20346AD. It’s a star system powered by mystical significance enough for both Matt Groening to include it in Futurama and for David Icke to consider it the homeland of the shapeshifting reptiles that he maintains secretly control Earth”. ‘Chronicles From The Fourth Planet’ opens up in a heady psychedelic cloud filled with distant instrumental drones, throbbing lines of bass and oodles of reverb. Pulsing percussion courtesy of Indian tabla drums arrive pulling noisy lines of lead guitar and the undulating echoes of hazy vocalisations with them as contrasting twangs of acoustic guitar inject catchy chord changes highlighted by cascading bass progressions and layer upon layer of delicious atmosphere. Surging swells of synth add intense weight to proceedings as we rise and fall through heady waves of jittering frequencies and are eventually lulled into submission in tracks final throws by the sway of instrumentation and the peaceful sound of waves washing the shoreline. The album closes out with ‘Coffins On The Tree, A Black Braid On Our Way To Home’. A repetitive bass progression hugs the rumble of percussion and the twinkle of instrumentation as swirling drones and infectious electronics wash over this listener. This track builds ever so slowly, adding brilliantly executed layered vocalisations, sublime production and slow moving drum patterns into the mix as those heady lines of guitar join in with melee of collective sounds to create something altogether magical. It’s a fantastic closing track and a fitting ending to what is a marvellous album.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Del Chaney has spent the last five years dedicating his time to uncovering the best artists in the unsigned or small independent label based shoegaze, ethereal dream pop, postpunk & modern psych rock from all over the globe & reviewing them for this blog – The Primal Music Blog. He is also a contributing writer for The Sound Of Confusion (Now On Hiatus). His other arm – Primal Radio – has gained considerable respect from bands and promoters alike since its conception in 2013 & has helped him in actively promoting genres of music that he is passionate about. Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, he is a keen Vinyl Collector, Tattoo Fan & all round good guy! He is a self confessed music freak & is never far away from a studio console or a turntable.