I’ve had Jantar on my radar for a while but never gotten a chance to give one of their releases a proper review. The latest takes a bit of a shift away from some of their dreamy, cinematic psych landscapes and tumbles headlong into Canterbury-gilded psych-folk. Naturally, I was drawn right in. With visions of Gong and Soft Machine floating through their heads, the band nail down just the right balance of instrumental aptitude vs. whimsy, a tricky proposition that can often get muddled trying to translate that particular parcel of the past to the current psych landscape. Frankly, aside from De Lorians, most have missed the mark pretty heavily in their attempt. Like that outfit, Jantar find themselves lost in the angular tangle of lavender-scented prog and revealing in rusted greenhouse glow of moss-bloomed riffs.
They soar into view on the eleven-minute burble of “immram,” setting their ambitions high for the sonic contortions they set out to conquer on Sempronia. Baroque keys make way for the oaken brambles of guitar, with the band’s vocals percolating atop the delightful aural foam with an unabashed academic indulgence seems to lock onto their affinity for the more buttoned up prog set quite perfectly. As they settle into the prog rabbit den even further, they find themselves exploring the bent refractions of “The Appian Way,” another longform stunner that dispenses with the knotted riffs and lets groove slide past their collections of woodwinds for an ornate funhouse wander. The album slots into the ever-evolving Drowned Lands / Feeding Tube roster quite nicely, giving shape to the burgeoning label’s commitment to extensions of the Black Dirt legacy. Jantar previously crossed paths and releases with Black Dirt Oak (the studio’s in-house supergroup) and its great to see them popping up as extended family on the label’s third release. While the band has deep roots and an excellent catalog, this is definitely one of their most rewarding releases yet. Fans of any of the aforementioned psych tributaries would do well to snap this one up quick.
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