Crippled Black Phoenix have always been a hard one to pin down to a single genre so its no surprise to find multi-instrumentalist Justin Greaves still warping any pre- or mis-conceptions we may have of his band. This long-playing EP comes hot on the heels of last year’s White Light Generator – an album that marked their 10th anniversary.
Having tackled the emotional journey from stoner doom to freak folk they continue their homage to the likes of Pink Floyd by covering their classic composition “Echoes” from the 1971 album Meddle. Here they strongly echo the source material yet manage to expand it from its original 23-minute running time, employing some neat little tricks and charming affectations, to a whopping 37-minuter in two parts. Definitely a melange that Floyd fans will want to check out.
The two original tracks here provide most insight into their evolution. With trumpets and gunshots opening the album the scene is set by “Spider Island”… something wicked this way comes. Slow, clean, dark instrumentation with a long, languid, deeply affected vocal brings the constituent parts to climax somewhere between the damaged grunge of Soundgarden and the dizzying wash of Monster Magnet. Nestling up to this the title-track and album focal point is a psychedelic journey down a more occult side-road. Big on cyclical effects, pinged bass and warming Hammond organ, the structural twists stand out like bullet-points. The central rhythmic break is a doozy, lingering within an echoic chamber of Jarre-ish Oxygene effects. From here, the instrumental patterning continues to morph until It becomes apparent that the track has already reached its peak and lost its sense of direction long before it meanders to a close.
A record that is not without fault then, but one that sits pretty on its perch.
(7.5 John Skibeat)