Posts Tagged ‘The Cosmic Range’

Stonegrass

I let loose a track from this monster earlier in the month, but now the full album is upon us and it’s even more expansive than the fuzz chomper, “Tea” lets on. Brainstormed out of sessions between Matthew ‘Doc’ Dunn (The Cosmic Range, The Golden Road) and Jay Anderson (Badge Époque Ensemble) following the end of their previous endeavor, The Spiritual Sky Blues Band— the two find a cosmic nirvana that mixes hazed strums with wind-bitten fuzz. The album employs haunted psych textures beset with flute fumigations and deep-set zones that ripple through a particularly nocturnal temperament. The pair link up with Tony Price (US Girls/Young Guv) on production, making for a potent triumvirate of psychedelic resonance. There’s a deeply grooved library music mantra about the album, rolling together elements of The Feed-Back and Alessandroni while slicing through prog puddles filled with the likes of Xhol Caravan, Kraan, and Paternoster.

Anderson’s involvement injects a slight tinge of funk to the project, as can be heard in the predawn dabbling of “The Highway (To All Known Places),” but the default setting is one of scorched mind-flay with the amps set at fuzz-rumble and the ambience creeping in with a full dose of menace. Dunn and Anderson are certainly no newcomers to the psychedelic sense, but what’s most affecting here is their want to delve deep into their archives of personal pedigree to emulate the far-gone burnt ends of instrumental indulgence. There’s something to love here for the heads who just want to hole up in groove and fuzz, something for those who love the instrumental crust belt, and something for fans of Dunn and Anderson in general. Stonegrass is every bit the dropout dose that the signifiers suggest and more. I suggest strapping in for a turbulent ride.




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Stonegrass – “Tea”

Wouldn’t be a week around here without a solid psych album featuring a Darryl Norsen cover, and this week we sneak in two, just under the wire (see also: Silver Scrolls). This one comes in from longtime RSTB fave Matthew Doc Dunn (The Cosmic Range, The Golden Road) who expands upon a couple of his previous psych-saturated outfits with a debut LP under the name Stonegrass. Linking up with Jay Anderson (Badge Époque Ensemble) & Tony Price (US Girls/Young Guv,) Dunn expands on the principles that he and Anderson had begun in their defunct project that flew under the flag of The Spiritual Sky Blues Band. Combining the exploratory sense of The Cosmic Range and a bit of Anderson’s psych-funk explorations with the Badge, the pair (along with Price on production) have crafted an LP that’s lifted out of the resin-soaked bins of the ‘70s psych sojourn – evoking sessions that stretch three days and roll out with barely a legible anecdote from the players but with riffs that could cut glass on contact. The first cut, “Tea,” is an absolute monster — barreling out of the speakers with grit and gas fumes, destined to tear your woofers to shreds. The whole album is a crusher, but you’ll have to wait until later in the month to experience its full glory.





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Matthew ‘Doc’ Dunn

Canadian psych keystone Matthew ‘Doc’ Dunn has a seemingly infinite reserve of boundless energy, already lending his talents to two solid releases for 2019 (The Cosmic Range, Sacred Lamp). Add in touring duties with U.S. Girls and this would stretch most songwriters thin, but this month he’s following up on his two(!) excellent solo albums from last year with another bout of faded singer-songwriter gems. Lightbourne made the biggest impression in the press, but it was swiftly followed by the equally sun-streaked Some Horses Run, which tumbled out just a few months later, and might rightfully get chalked up as one of 2018’s most overlooked record. Continuing to mine his country-flecked, rambling pop predilections on Upper Canada Blues Dunn douses the speakers in a honeyed drawl and low simmering arrangements that pull back from his more psychedelic output.

Dunn’s solo records tend to run the early ‘70s ambitions of Van Morrison through a denim wash that dries deep on the line in the Laurel Canyon sun. Dunn’s versatility as a sideman (tightening the turns for U.S. Girls, lending airy atmosphere to MV & EE) come crashing through on Upper Canada Blues. The arrangements are lush to the point of quenching an invisible itch. As the slides saunter in on “Ribbons” there’s a smell of wet grass, hot coals, and rain on the air. Dunn has an ability to instantly feel familiar, like an artist you’d grown up with – crackling from the AM speakers on an uncle’s truck, humming on the hi-fi of an older sibling, somehow always around and waiting to be found when your ears aged to the proper temper.

That familiarity never rubs off as stagnant, though. The easy entry to Dunn’s work is only further rewarded by its richness. The leather lounge of “Save Our Grace,” the hip-swing wink of “The Beast,” the exhale ease of “Running Right Out” – Dunn’s crafted another afternoon sipper of an album. This is the kind of record that slips off a hard day every time and its likely you’ll be thankful for Dunn’s gravitas. The last couple seemed to slip away from folks, I’d warn not to let this one fly under cover as well. Its too good to miss.



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Badge Époque Ensemble

Like fellow Canadian jazz-bent psych troupe The Cosmic Range, Badge Époque Ensemble also dovetails into the Venn diagram sweet-spot that snags members from the backup band for U.S. Girls — the engine that drove her electric last tour. Instead of delving into the quaalude-jazz quadrant that the Range does, however, Badge Époque Ensemble are seeking higher ground with respect to the psychedelic fringe of funk and the lysergic lilt of soul. The band’s stacked with talent, and taking the lead here from Maximillian “Slim Twig” Turnbull. He and the ensemble attempt to embrace the acid-funk backbeat that blew through Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse, meld that with the detritus Stevie left littered through the ‘70s, and melt it down in a mold made in the image of Alain Goraguer.

In fact the last one hits especially hard, while there are grooves — tons of grooves, in fact — the album swims through an abstract narrative that feels right at home with Goraguer’s masterpiece La Planete Sauvage. Their eponymous platter is swung through with flutes, hollowed-tree organ ambience, and the stomach-punch crunch of fuzz hungry guitars. When they light into the almost eleven-minute centerpiece “Undressed in Solitude,” everything within earshot melts to sweet creamery coolness — even the molecules in the air seem to move just a touch slower until the song finally evaporates on a cloud of steam.

As a genre exercise this would make a great anonymous entry to the library music archives of the ‘70s slotting alongside admitted influences like Daniela Casa, Alessandro Alessandroni, and Piero Umiliani. For the casual traveler, this might be a bit too heady, but for the funk freak already scratching through the psychedelic tributaries jutting out of the Library canon’s core, this is a perfect fit. Late nite vibes abound here. Dim the lights, light a candle, and let the polyester polyrhythms pour over you.

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The Cosmic Range

Its such a packed year, that as we enter the mid-point its time to go back and sweep out some of the great releases that got lost in the cavalcade. That includes the sorely under-appreciated sophomore LP from Canada’s Cosmic Range. The band, much like their close contemporaries in Badge Epoque Ensemble, is comprised largely of players who found themselves in and around the backing band from last year’s U.S. Girls release. Featuring the likes of Matthew ‘Doc” Dunn and Maximillian (Slim Twig) Turnbull, the record scratches a familiar itch that claws at the crux of jazz, psych, and funk. The band is dipped and doused in the hash den Ashram of ‘70s Miles Davis on his run between the Brew and the Corner. They’re beset with the same shakes that lit up the nerves on Nation Time and they’re weeding out the same calm collective gardens that Alice Coltrane tended.

There’s more than a little hazed quasar space rock floating in the froth as well and the band pulls the throttle way back for the disquieting loneliness of “Eyes for Rivers” before they spark back up for the double barrel burn of “The Observer.” Rhythm is a constant throughout the album, whether tapping out a tender cosmic sendoff or bringing the punishing pound of a polyrhythmic puzzle. The band’s clearly comprised of seasoned vets bouncing their highest beta wave wobble among the collective consciousness. The record is a heady hit, blown through with psychedelic sax n’ wah fried guitar grooves that’ll sate the most ardent heads out there. If you’ve heard the tangential works that the players have cropped up on, then it should come as little surprise that the alchemy is strong among this bunch. Highly recommended that you lock in and let this one wash over you.




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