Tuesday, June 25, 2013

… The Undersea World of : DEEP – Vol. 1 (Album review)

Miles beneath the surface of the ocean lie crushing depths of blackness that would pulverize the human body instantly, just how far down it goes remains a scientific mystery.   In a fluid 360 degree environment that has never been blessed by the warmth or light of the life-giving sun the way of things is always eat or be eaten.  It’s a cold, harsh existence, one that is as completely alien to man as anything he may one day find beyond this sphere.  There’s a metaphor in there somewhere, a metaphor for human consciousness and creativity.

Deep is one of the most original sounding and imaginative bands I’ve heard in a long while.  They take the basic elements of stoner and doom music and, in a 360 degree fluid environment, carry those elements to strange places, making unexpected blind leaps within the gloom.  Such creativity is the very stuff of life itself.  If the world ran on logic alone there would be very little to do but be trampled upon and die.  Well there’s no trampling where this band is coming from.  It is believed that 80 percent of all organic life on earth lives within the deep.  It is within this teeming spirit that Deep’s 8 song album finds its home.

Plunge into the paper thin production and razor sharp fuzz of opening track “Sun” and right away the band name begins to take shape and make sense.  One thing that can’t be passed without further mention is the fuzz tone which sounds at times like the band is running a fuzzbox through a Tesla coil rather than a guitar and amp.  “Sun” bobs atop the surface with the brightest sound on the record and it is after this point that we dive down into ever-darkening layers where internal thought is the only companion.

That sun-starved darkness of the ocean is felt on many tracks, creating the kind of despairing desolation not often heard in a truly musical setting outside of the records of Ice Dragon and their associated acts.  The D.I.Y. ethic runs strong in this one and the lo-fi nature of the recording always remains pre-eminent in the band’s sound, creating much of the tesla coil zapping and darkened atmospheres on the album.  It’s such a delicate balance or dare I say, a happy accident, when the recording and tone of a record harmonizes so beautifully, but this is exactly the kind of band that I wouldn’t want to see enter a professional recording studio and “clean up” their sound because as it is right now, it is perfect.

However, as the record plays on it begins to sound like two bands with two different visions are clashing head to head and struggling for dominance.  One is a slightly early 80s dark rock sound while the other is a fairly wild take on more traditional stoner rock such as Kyuss, and sometimes, those clashing elements even find a battlefield within individual songs (see “The Wizard and the Mountain” and its follow-up “Hyperventilation Realization”).  Still, it’s a unique band with a singular vision that manages to find a home for didgeridoo within the ocean bed of its murky and lysergic rock sound.  That lysergic murk comes bubbling up to the surface on album closer “Sonic Mantra” which is loaded with southwestern moods and desert feelings, creating a spaghetti western musical in the theater of the mind’s eye.

I hesitate to say that Deep’s ‘Vol. 1’ is a promising record by an up-and-coming band because this is the sound of the band in its purest incarnation.  There’s an ‘outsider music’ quality that provides this album with much of its appeal.  From stoner to doom to psychedelic raga rock the pure creativity of the band slides by kaleidoscopically.  That’s something that I wouldn’t want the band to ever change, only to continue to explore, to navigate and to plum their own internal depths.  There’s no telling how far this band can go inside itself to re-surface with trunkfulls of treasure.

words by Lucas Klaukien

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