Wednesday, January 21, 2009

La Otracina - Blood Moon Riders (Holy Mountain LP)

Just got a nice batch of Holy Mountain releases thanks to Adam Kriney (thanks, Adam!), previously drummer for Owl Xounds but today focusing his seemingly endless supply of energy toward psych(otic) rock unit La Otracina. Having started back in 2003 with long drifts of psychedelic explorations, La Otracina has since honed its approach into something more overtly post-rocky. Fear not though--unlike so many of those technically savvy post-rockers, La Otracina has maintained every sliver of its psych expansionist approach. It's merely filtered it into direct bouts with the form as it bathes in its waters.

The LP opens with the longest track on the record, the over 15 minute "Inner Mind Journey." Starting where the Amboy Dukes' similarly situated "Journey to the Center of Your Mind" left off, the trio pursue vast realms of burning psych rock. Kriney's drums hone in on the same kinds of shapes as King Crimson's Michael Giles without sacrificing himself over to mere technical prowess. Guitarist Ninni Morgia similarly uses his chops to his advantage as he wields shards of burning riffage. Evan Sobel's bass holds the whole thing together beautifully, elastically winding around within the pyrotechnics. The whole thing just goes on and on, never running out of steam as it floats about like smoke curling among the flames. Definitely appreciation and knowledge of their form here too, it's not too far off from the same explosive potential of groups like Flower Travellin' Band and Hawkwind.

"Ballad of the Hot Ghost Mama Pt. 1" provides a brief respite from the onslaught of the opening cut as it lightly drifts about in near zephyr-like swells. More like their earlier material, the piece is a total zoner as cymbals build and the guitar's beautifully phased out tones echo across the work's outer parameters. The following "Zunblazer," if the name weren't indication enough, is another entrance head first into total riff dementia. Morgia's guitar opens with vast waves of tone before Kriney and Sobel join in to provide a pulse for the building loop work. When it all comes together, it's total krautrock burner style, unapologetically, head-knoddingly rad.

The second half of "Ballad of the Hot Ghost Mama" comes next, continuing in its first half's direction while building on its feel. A little less aired out than its sister track, it still provides shelter from the all-out onslaughts of the more rocking numbers. Thick wah'd drones undulate about as if they will continue forever. Instead the veer down into the closing "A Drifted Memory," which spends its first half mucking about beneath a thick layer of fuzz, like hearing the middle of some Pink Floyd epic on the very edge of radio service. The second half kicks in with the most overtly proggy bit on the disc. Total riffology as a two chord line is explored and kept aloft by the taught rhythm section beneath. Soon that too dissipates into a cloud of soft warm light that slowly turns to red, then blue, then black. It's a beautiful ending that poises you for another listen. Really nice work from a trio whose sonic potential seems near limitless.

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