Vibravoid — Mushroom Mantras
(Stoned Karma Records SK011, 2017, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2018-02-12
Vibravoid. Even their name by itself sounds psychedelic, and if that’s what you are looking for you’ve definitely come to the right place. From Düsseldorf, they are a trio led by guitarist Christian Koch, along with a drummer and bassist, and although the liner notes are long on verbiage about each of the songs, they are lean on credits, so the bassist and drummer are more or less anonymous (even their website and Facebook offer no clues), and even less the credits for sitar, organ, mellotron, theremin and other vintage trippy sonic embelishments that permeate their music. One thing is certain, the seven tracks of the album proper (the CD version has three bonus tracks, we’ll get to those later) are extremely dense and multi-layered, certainly more than three guys could do without studio overdubs. The opening track is “Om Gang Ganpataye Namah,” which reveals their strongest influence, which is late 60s Pink Floyd, centereed squarely on A Saucerful of Secrets. I swear they got this organ from the late Rick Wright — the sound is so close it’s unbelievable. The harder rocking pieces like “Doctor Robert” sound like the heavier rock pieces from More, with sitar added for good measure, hinting at some of the Beatles off-center songs from the Magical Mystery Tour period, but with more of a garage attitude (Electric Prunes from their first couple albums could have done this also). An everpresent swirling psychedelic fog and dweedly vintage oscillators and theremin create a cauldron of sound that obscures the vocals somewhat, but certainly that’s the point, to make this sound as vintage as possible. The first five tracks are more succinct, mostly with vocals, but “Purple Pepper” and and especially “The Orange Coat” at close to twenty minutes, offer the band an opportunity to stretch out even more, as the piece builds slowly.
Now for the CD version, there are three additional tracks titled “Krautfaktor 1, 2 and 3” that the band recorded way back in 1992, not long after they formed, attempting to create the kind of Kosmische Music pioneered by their heroes. These three cuts are very different from the others preceeding them on the disc, taking on a more mechanical and droney repetitive sound without as much development, sometimes stretching out to the limits of tolerance; think Kraftwerk on their first two albums, or like that. Interesting, but nothing that will overshadow the main course. Overall, not that groundbreaking, but might cause spontaneous hallucinations nonetheless. if you always wished that Floyd would have made another album in 1968, Mushroom Mantras is your ticket.
Related artist(s): Vibravoid
Didier Lockwood RIP – Word reaches us today of the death of one of France's great jazz musicians, violinist Didier Lockwood. His playing bridged many worlds, from traditional jazz to fusion to progressive rock, and his talent can be heard on recordings by Magma, Clearlight, Pierre Moerlen's Gong, and many more. Lockwood was 62. » Read more
10 Years of Fruits de Mer - The Incomplete Angler – Those of you who are faithful followers of Exposé will know that we have been promoting Fruits de Mer and its side labels and releases from nearly its first year. Now music journalist and author Dave Thompson has written a book chronicling the past ten years as a celebration of this milestone. » Read more
Bill Bruford Ventures into Uncharted Territory – Drum master Bill Bruford, veteran of some of the most creative bands in history (King Crimson, Yes, Genese, etc.), is sharing some of what he's learned about being a drummer and a musician in his new book, Uncharted: Creativity and the Expert Drummer, out on University of Michigan Press. » Read more