Dead Sea Apes – High Evolutionary

It’s been a while since Dead Sea Apes’ last LP ‘Lupus‘, mainly due to guitarist Brett Savage falling prey to a serious illness (thankfully all is well now). But the enforced hiatus has given the band time to tinker with the mix etc of the new offering ‘High Evolutionary‘ – time very well spent. This is an awesome LP! (I could just end the review there but…)
I have a problem with the use of the word ‘cinematic’ in reviews, it has always struck me as being shorthand for ‘I don’t really know what to say about this’. However, ‘High Evolutionary‘ IS a cinematic LP – each track can take you to a different place and form soundtracks to imaginary (and real) films. Allow me to give you an example: The first track is titled ‘Threads‘ , on first listen I was picking up references to sixties psyche and seventies krautrock and started forming this review around these. My  wife saw the LP sitting on the turntable and said, and I quote, “ah Threads, do you remember that programme”. For those who don’t know ‘Threads‘ was a cold war, apocalyptic drama shown here in the UK on the BBC in the seventies – it was a fictional account of a nuclear strike in Sheffield (I think it was Sheffield?!) and the ensuing chaos and tragedy….and it scared the shit out of me and many, many others. Anyway, the point is, I listened to the track again with this firmly in mind…..and it worked! It provided a musical counterpoint to my memories of that programme – the rumbling bass took on a more sinister aspect and the ringing, spaghetti-western guitar chimes providing the dramatic backdrop (there is one particular key change….wow!).
I am NOT going to spend the rest of this review referencing films etc because this LP will conjuror up different stories for different people so I will touch upon the music.
Planetarium‘ has a more ambient vibe to it – surfy guitar and motorik drums and do I detect a bit of dub? It is a musical journey, a bit like a psych/kraut reworking of Philip Glass’s ‘Koyaanisqatsi‘.  Side 1 finishes with ‘Turpentine‘ with it’s almost impressionistic guitar licks and it’s foreboding resonance.

Side 2 opens with ‘Alejandro’  which follows in the same vein but with a bit more of an optimistic, uplifting outlook and provides the warm heart of the LP.  If ‘Alejandro‘ provides the heart, then ‘Regolith‘ provides the balls – as the title suggests it is a hard, unyielding track with the most monolithic bass and some serious skin bashing (apparently my elderly neighbour dug this track as well as he was beating on the walls in time). The closer ‘Wolf II‘ is a more contemplative reworking of ‘Wolf Of The Bees‘ from ‘Lupus‘ and provides a fitting end to the LP, more atmospheric  spaghetti guitars and kraut rhythms, a glimpse of calm after the freak-out of ‘Regolith‘.

Dead Sea Apes and Cardinal Fuzz have provided us with the LP of 2014, and what I find so impressive is how measured it is – they know exactly when to keep it quiet and exactly when to let loose. It is a testament to their growth as a band and their unwavering vision as to how they want the LP to sound. It is psychedelia in the truest sense of the word; it opens the mind, suspends reality and transports the listener to strange, unknown places. To sum up…a masterpiece.

It is available in the UK through Cardinal Fuzz, and the USA via Sunrise Ocean Bender or Aquarius Records.

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