Vibravoid — Mushroom Mantras
(Stoned Karma Records SK011, 2017, CD)
by Henry Schneider, 2018-03-21:
I first encountered Vibravoid about 10 years ago, I think from a YouTube video, but I cannot be sure. I rapidly discovered that no one in the US carried any of their releases, causing me to explore locations in Europe, which led me to Fruits de Mer records, barely a year old at the time. They had just released Vibravoid’s Krautrock Sensation EP with covers of Kraftwerk’s “Ruckzuck,” Amon Düül II’s “Eye Shaking King,” Can’s “Mother Sky,” and Mashantra’s “Rauchkraut.” I was hooked, and over the past decade the prolific Vibravoid has continued to produce incredible trippy psychedelic progressive Krautrock jams both in the studio and playing live, never shying away from challenges. They’ve covered Eddie Cochrane’s “Shotgun Wedding Theme,” Pink Floyd, and even Iron Butterfly’s “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.” So I have been eagerly waiting to hear and review their latest effort Mushroom Mantras. This time around Christian and mates have produced ten different psychedelic mantras, with two of them running on for 20 minutes, opening up a whole new musical realm for Vibravoid. The disc opens with an Indian religious mantra to the elephant god Ganesh “Om Gang Ganpataye Namah.” You can find some YouTube videos of this mantra, a sedate and slow chant that can last up to 36 minutes. What Vibravoid has done is taken this mantra, mixed in some shrooms, sitar, and Krautrock to create drugged-out psych masterpiece lasting four and a half minutes. The Hindi mantra is mixed with English lyrics and a couple of outbursts of “Mushrooms!” The second song “Legend of Doctor Robert” is a four minute trippy psych mantra with reversed tapes, sitar, and echoed and reverbed vocals. “Echoes of Time” is a crazed psych jam with fuzzed guitars. Then we have the Indian peace mantra “Sarveshaam Svastir Bhavatu,” which is usually slow and sedate. If you remember back to the tribute Concert for George Harrison in 2003, the concert opens with this peaceful mantra. But not for Vibravoid! Trippy guitar effects, sitar, and heavy doses of psych make for another blissful mind trip. Track five is their first instrumental, “Apollo69,” with fuzzed sitar, swooping electronics, and glorious washes of sonic colors. “Purple Pepper” dials things back a couple of notches for a floating and dreamy journey with a fuzzed tremolo guitar. With “The Orange Coat,” they brin us chirping birds, sitar, and drones to create a masterpiece of Krautrock laced raga rock. There is a bit of Popol Vuh in here along with Jerry Garcia’s “Dark Star.” This circular music continues for roughly ten minutes before the vocals enter and eventually an electronic tabla rhythm to round out this 20 minute meditative piece. As I listened, I wondered what it would be like for Vibravoid and Acid Mothers Temple to collaborate. That would be very interesting! And the disk ends with the three-part “Krautfaktor.” Each part is different. Part I is calm cyclic washes of sound. Part II is a 21 minute extended drone instrumental that at times recalls Harmonia, but mostly Faust’s collaboration with Tony Conrad on Outside the Dream Syndicate. And Part III, that closes the disc, is an eerie experimental track with prepared piano and a distorted rumbling bass synth. Mushroom Mantras is definitely a new direction for the band, but one that is sure to please their fan base.
by Peter Thelen, 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
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more
Chicago-Based Surabhi Ensemble Tours the World in January – Surabhi Ensemble was formed more than a decade ago in Chicago with the aim of bringing together musicians from varying traditions to make music. Saraswathi Ranganathan, who plays veena, assembled a cast that includes Arabic oud, Spanish guitar, and percussion from Africa and India. This month, the group will be sharing their sounds with concert-goers in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa. » Read more
Mike Oldfield - The Songs of Distant Earth & Hibernaculum – Here is the latest release from Mike Oldfield and what an innovation it is! The Songs of Distant Earth is the first CD I've encountered that marries CD-ROM with audio CD. In addition Mike Oldfield... (1995) » Read more
Kräldjursanstalten - Voodoo Boogie / Nu Är Det Allvar!! – Have the Excedrin bottle handy for this one. Actually it's not that bad, and in fact starts to reveal itself after a few listens as being pretty innovative and unique. But the shouted punky... (1997) » Read more