Byl Zamechen... — Stalo Yeshcho Tol'ko Khuzhe (It Got Even Worse)
(Robustfellow, 2016, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2016-08-19
The warning label on the package says “lo-fi noise” and “stoner” — I swear somewhere there was a sticker that said “sludge” or something like that. I’m speaking metaphorically, of course, since this was a download and not a physical object. What this Ukrainian band does is a bit harder to pin down than the tags used on their Bandcamp page. There’s definitely an element of psych to it, with long-running riffs and trippy effects. Though in this case, the dominant effect is plain old distortion rather than endless echoes or phase shifting. Sometimes the noise takes on a droning quality something like a didjeridu, over which other parts are arrayed. As for the “lo-fi” label, I would say that while there’s a lot of distortion, it’s mostly distortion in the source material, not distortion from lo-fi recording techniques. In addition to guitar, bass, and drums, a couple of tracks feature saxophone, and there are bits of keyboard here and there, including some nice overdriven organ on “Shifroval.” This track consists of several sections of differing tempo, some of which are fairly fast, with “ba-ba” backing vocals like a twisted 60s go-go tune. Further drifting away from stoner rock, there is the track “V Odin Konets,” which is ten minutes of nearly formless meandering, with erratic percussion, chanting, and a freakout on what sounds like a wooden flute. On the whole, Byl Zamechen is noisier than a lot of psych bands coming out of the US, England, and Scandinavia, but nowhere near as abrasive as Hijokaidan. They’re adding a lot of varied elements into their sonic stew, many of which are nearly overwhelmed by the mass of fuzz coming out of the guitar amp. As it is, they’re producing some interesting music, but with a little sonic restraint, they could be doing something really special.
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