Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Orangotango - Sumatra (2018)



Country: Portugal
Style: Psychedelic Rock
Rating: 8/10
Release Date: 17 Dec 2018
Sites: Bandcamp | Facebook | Official Website

Ever since I discovered Stoned Meadow of Doom on YouTube, I've been completely hooked on instrumental albums from stoner, doom or psychedelic rock bands. This one is the product of a Portuguese trio from Susão. Oddly, given that Susão is at the very northwest of Portugal overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, they seem to be looking far to the east to the jungles of Indonesia for inspiration.

The half hour slab of riffs that is Sumatra is broken up into only five tracks and they're a heady dose of bass-driven power.

Aura starts things out with sensitivity, the gently noodling guitar of Rui Loureiro floating over the other instruments, its plaintive refrain calling for something somewhere. What responds is sheer power, solid bass driven riffs from Carlos Jorge that could be called plodding if they weren't so up tempo. They're also pretty clean, with only a hint of fuzz; they're heavy enough without help from distortion. This distant conversation between distant guitar and bass gets closer as this nine minute opener progresses, all capably underpinned by the drums of Filipe Ferreira. It's gorgeous stuff.

Bolt, as its title might suggest, speeds things up somewhat but it's still no breakneck affair. Dust hits a gallop at points, sounding almost like early death/doom era Paradise Lost on speed, especially given that guitar tone. The middle of Ride explores the same terrain a little slower and I realise that I'm all for gothic psychedelia with a bass as heavy as this!

The variance between tracks comes mostly from Loureiro's guitar work because he conjures a variety of different sounds out of his instrument depending on the needs of the track at hand. Much of this comes in the bookends, two nine minute epics that sound notably different, Aura being conversational and Outblast more spiritual. The three shorter tracks in between are much more similar in outlook and, if it wasn't for the breaks between them, they'd blur into a twelve minute third track.

I hadn't heard of Orangotango until this release and they seem to have come out of nowhere, but I'm hooked. They're a notably heavy band for having only three members but they mix it up well. I wasn't bored for a moment and Sumatra never wandered off into the background while my concentration moved elsewhere. I was with the band throughout. Who needs vocals anyway?

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