Monday 1 July 2019

Solar Corona - Lightning One (2019)

Country: Portugal
Style: Psychedelic Rock
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 3 May 2019
Sites: Bandcamp | Facebook | Instagram

It was four minutes into the opening track, Love is Calling, that I fell in love with Solar Corona. It had found an interesting groove anyway, slow but not doomy, patient and spacy. If it wasn't so heavy, it could have been the beginning to a Tangerine Dream epic. Three minutes in, it threatens to get a lot more intense but it holds back a little to build tension. And then, when it hits the halfway mark, it ratchets up to high gear and truly comes alive.

I think the difference between the two halves of that track is that, for the first half I was listening to the music but for the second I was taken on a trip somewhere and I experienced the song. Where it took me, I can't really say but it was a wild journey to somewhere where everything was in motion, a feeling not unlike the cover art as an animated gif.

I know where Speedway took me. As the title suggests, it feels like I joined a whole phalanx of bikers to peel out of somewhere meaningless and explore the open road. And by road, I'm not sure we were on a surface but maybe off on a ray of light into the cosmos. There's certainly a lot of space rock in here but I got an Armageddon vibe too, if you remember the Keith Relf outfit from the early seventies. It does slow down a little after a while but stays involved.

If we weren't already thinking about Lemmy era Hawkwind, we'd surely start when Rebound kicks off. It's a bass led ride into nowhere, appropriate to follow Speedway. Then, a few minutes in, it stops entirely and starts up as a completely different track with a completely different sound. Suddenly, we're listening to a Pink Floyd track we've never heard before, complete with a saxophone, taken from some alternate universe Dark Side of the Moon that we haven't heard before.

If this is the quietest the album gets, Drive-In is surely the most vehement assault on the senses. It's an intense jam that starts intense, calms down for a little while and then gets even more intense. It's a frantic, violent run and we celebrate making it out alive by relaxing a little during Beehive with its suitably swirling groove and some more sax appeal. The song titles are highly appropriate.

At twelve and a half minutes, Gold Ray is emphatically the longest track on the album and it wraps things up with another wild and experimental trip to parts unknown, where all those masked wrestlers come from. For much of its running time, it's one of those jams where we just know that it's all going to fall apart completely any moment now, but somehow it never does because the band know each other inside and out and they keep it together.

This track also fades out slowly, so much so that the last twenty seconds are silence or as close to it as makes no odds. Gold Ray could easily be seen or felt as a glorious explosion. I'm not sure if it's meant to be internal, an attempt to blow our minds, or external, like a star going nova. Either way, it tries to harness the complex strands of reality to be a dance partner as everything boils magnificently away into the ether. One reason I feel that the album works so well is because it does exactly the same thing but on a larger scale.

Solar Corona were formed in Barcelos in Portugal in 2012 and they're a power trio, enhanced by the presence of Julius Gabriel on sax. Rodrigo Carvalho is the ostensible leader and all the guitar work belongs to him. I presume that drummer Peter Carvalho is related. José Roberto Gomes provides the prominent bass. I'd love to call them out for special praise but they're so cohesive that it's difficult to think of any of them individually. Immerse yourself and see what I mean!

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