Music is the TARDIS of non Whovians. Hear me out …..come on….. come back.
Like the fictional police box , the recordings of the world’s artists are much larger once explored than the relatively small space they take up (especially in today’s MP3 world). Not only that but they have the ability to whisk us back in time giving us a holiday from this techno nightmare of inboxes and social media to a utopian world of white rabbits and free love in fields of purple candy floss. ( I think I best check what was in my Ready Brek).
The High Priest of Saturn are a four piece from Trondheim in Norway who party like its 1969 and certainly tried the orange kool aid. Forming in 2013 “Sons of Earth and Sky” is their sophomore effort and is a near perfect blend of psychedelic groove and doomy heaviosity that stretches the mind whilst pummelling the ribcage. Five songs recorded live in five days this is no Protools cut and paste job and the band sound freer for it. Each track is washed by the Hammond strokes of Ole Malmedal augmenting the vocals of Marethe Heggset to create ethereal sonicscapes. Marethe also brings the heavy, handling bass guitar which plunges amidst the soaring six string fingerings of Martin Sivertsen whilst Andreas Hagen keeps them all to time from his throne at the back. It is hard to listen to this album without imagining them all playing with ecstatic looks upon their faces as a band. This album really is a trip.
Opener Aeolian Dunes is heavy. Like an iron bridge. Covered in elephants. On …well…. Saturn. Marethe’s vocals will get some comparisons to Soph Day from Alunah and Lori from Acid King, both strong front women and vocalists. On this tracks her voice is interwoven into the structure of the piece rather than standing atop it and it evokes a great feeling of space. Aoelian dunes relates to wind activity in the Mojave desert and there is a sense of that dangerous beauty in this track. Dark towering riffs form with the Hammond scurrying down them like a lizard. I can imagine Jim Morrison as played by Val Kilmer wandering into shot talking about shaman.
“Ages move the Earth” follows and the departure from the mundanity of modern life continues. There are echoes of Velvet Underground here amongst the swing beat and swathes of Hammond. The soaring guitar passage towards the end of its 9 minutes evokes aural memories of Gary Moore with its bluesy cries to the heavens. These guys give good groove. The title track has a deliciously warm opening (ooh err) with a Doors vibe adding to the desert feel , vocals and riffs are added on layer by layer to create something heavy and full sounding and before I realised it there was a full scale wig out happening. This is truly music for headphones in a darkened room. “The Warming Moon” is next. This track was the winner of Hit or Miss on The MattCave (Friday nights www.totalrock.com – shameless plug) and you will see why it was a hit with listeners and the panel alike. It opens with a bass line so sludgy and dirty you will apologise to your mother for liking it. The vocal line stops the track dropping completely into the swamp and it is time to slow bang your neck muscles into shape.
All too soon this quintet of celestial but gritty tracks is brought to a close by “The Flood of Waters”. The riff that propels this one is ominous like the slow moving wall of alien water in Interstellar with glimpses of Floydesque guitar licks (this from someone who is meant to detest Pink Floyd). Swirling wah wah guitars and haunting Hammonds provide the perfect soundtrack to my sad farewell to this collection. Thank fuck I can just hit repeat eh?
The High Priest of Saturn are the perfect time travelling companion and they won’t let you down in favour of snogging Billy Piper.
(8.5/10 Matt Mason)