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Saturday, 28 November 2015
GOLDEN VOID – BERKANA (Thrill Jockey LP, CD, D/L).
Led by Isaiah Mitchell of Earthless, Golden Void are one of the best new bands to emerge from the San Francisco Bay Area for a while and following strong reviews for their 2012 self-titled debut album they have been tipped to be the new face of Bay Area psychedelic music. It’s a region that has always had a rich psychedelic tradition, through the years birthing classic bands such as Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, The Chocolate Watchband, Moby Grape and more current Psych-Heads like Wooden Shjips, Sleepy Sun, The Brian Jonestown Massacre and Assemble Head In Sunburst Sound, and like many of these great bands Golden Void’s songs are firmly rooted in melody but they are not afraid of exploration. The band’s hooks get stuck in your head and their spaced out riffs transport you to a place way beyond the astral plane. But there is a twist………Golden Void’s undeniable twist, setting them apart from their city’s lineage, is the influence of classic Rock bands like Sabbath and Pentagram. Golden Void’s “sound” falls somewhere between early 70s influenced Acid Rock and Neil Young’s sonic adventures with Crazy Horse…..a heady brew of tripped out Psychedelic Rock mixed with a muscular backbone of exhilarating post-psychedelic Hard Rock sensibility that creates the perfect balance of powerful riffs, soaring melodies and hazy atmosphere on Berkana, their sophomore album on the Thrill Jockey label.
If you are familiar with Earthless you will know that their thing is sprawling heavy psych jams stretching to infinity and beyond. Golden Void are a different proposition altogether, less of a cosmic jam band but tighter and more focused……… while their debut album was mostly recorded live, Berkana was recorded with each member in isolation, allowing for more edits and overdubs. On songs like ‘Dervishing’ and ‘Astral Plane’, there are layers upon layers of sound to dig into with additional acoustic guitar, ARP synth and even flute being added to the band’s sonic arsenal, expanding the scope of their sound without abandoning the heady groove they carved on their acclaimed self-titled debut. Isaiah Mitchell, one of the best rock guitarists working today, shows off his chops, but also his incredible restraint, throughout. In addition to the stretches of outright shredding, particularly on opener ‘Burbank’s Dream’ or the climax of ‘The Beacon’, there are moments such as the breakdown on ‘I’ve Been Down’, in which Mitchell employs subtle melodic flourishes that slowly build in intensity. The album closes with the dreamy ‘Storm and Feather’, which is the calm after the howling storm of one of the best Psych Rock records we have heard all year, with members of Earthless and Assemble Head In Sunburst Sound together in a band you know that you are going to get an album of mind melting, sonically rich Psychedelic Rock and Roll tunes but Berkana surpasses all expectations.
Available as limited edition of 500 copies on orange vinyl or shiny silver CD and digital download (which can be any colour you think it is), Berkana is out NOW. You can get yerself a copy from the Thrill Jockey online store or the Golden Void Bandcamp page at https://goldenvoidtj.bandcamp.com/album/berkana. As Berkana is a Thrill Jockey release it should be relatively easy for your local record emporium to order you a copy but please note that the orange vinyl editions are only available direct from Thrill Jockey/Golden Void on t’internet……….it good old black vinyl only from the shops.