I think I’ve had this album on repeat since the moment it arrived. Hermit’s Grove is a kaleidoscopic leap forward for the band and and endless tumble into color and sound. Wax Machine offered up one of the last albums out the door during the sunset of Beyond Beyond is Beyond, and it was a psychedelic odyssey that was lodged in the Radiophonic jazz vortex that swallowed Broadcast, Fifty Foot Hose, and Silver Apples in equal measures. This time the band pushes further away from their Nuggets archetypes, while still holding tight to the anchor of ‘60s psychedelia. Spun round in gossamer flutes, dry-ice harmonies, and soaped guitar tones, the record dives into songwriter Lau Ro’s Brazilian heritage. Melding their already resplendent ripples with memories and manifestations of Tropicália, the band lets polyrhythems dance across the speakers, snaking through their jazz-psych sojourns. They conjure velvet visions, melodies that crush beneath the fingers and the kind of aura that curls in the mind like incense smoke rings.
The resulting record digs much deeper than their last, pushing through the veil into an imagined headspace that’s forever hovering between guided meditations and vivid dreams of the past. Following the rabbit tails of Caetano Veloso, Marcos Valle, and Gal Costa down into the darkness, Wax Machine stitch together a lost psychedelic odyssey that could easily have pulled together the the crossover vibrations of San Francisco Acid Tests, MPB, NY psych-folk a la Michaelangelo, and the lustrous air of Dorothy Ashby’s Afro-Harping. Somewhere in that fevered dream exists the landscape that the band have put together on Hermit’s Grove. Its an imaginary ether, a taste in the mouth, deja vu laid to tape. It’s also one of the most engrossing listens of the year, and the best Wax Machine have ever sounded.