Thursday 27 February 2020

Hypnotic Floor - Foggy Bog Eyes (2020)

Country: Austria
Style: Stoner Rock
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 14 Feb 2020
Sites: Bandcamp | Facebook

I'm not going to spend too much time trying to figure out what Fl├Âtenstrudl is all about. It's the intro to this experimental bluesy psychedelic stoner rock album and it's very strange, full of maracas, bees and violin tuning. I think it may translate to "whirlpool of flutes", because there are a lot of those too, but I think it's really a test. Are you willing to listen to two minutes of weirdness to get to the rest of the album? If you are, you're in for a treat.

It's largely instrumental music, though there are vocals every now and then. I can't find a line-up online, but it didn't surprise me to see pictures on the band's Facebook page that show that their singer also plays guitar. The band's approach tells me that he thinks of himself as a guitarist much more than a singer. His vocals aren't bad but nobody's going to be listening for his voice.

For the sake of throwing them into a box, I'd call them stoner rock and the usual influences are obvious. Static Wheel sounds to me like Black Sabbath at their most bluesy with an almost liquid guitar. Every so often, the band flick the heavy switch but they're bluesy far more often than they're heavy. Even here, though, there's something else going on. Is that a glockenspiel I hear at points?

It's Fall where things get really interesting and, having let this album run on repeat for a few listens, I'm thinking it's their definitive song. While Static Wheel is mostly laid back, Fall is almost dance music emphatic. That simple but forceful drumbeat is reminiscent of a Stone Roses song like I am the Resurrection and it never quits. But when the vocals show up, it becomes folky, which surprised me because it's English folk rather than the American folk that infused the San Francisco scene of the late sixties. I should add that Hypnotic Floor are Austrian, based in Vienna.

Fall is the sort of song that we don't want to end and it almost doesn't, an eleven minute opus that seems eager to keep going for eleven more, wrapping up only so that the band can move onto other material, including the title track which adds a prog feel to the psych folk jam for an even headier mix. That triple whammy of Static Wheel, Fall and Foggy Bog Eyes is an impressive run, especially as it continually ups the game for twenty plus minutes.

This gradual acquisition of genres makes me wonder if why I'm not as fond of the final two tracks is because they don't add much more to the mix. Oakman adds a progression in fits and starts and a neat transition into heavy mode. Woods adds a harmonica to underline that bluesy connection. I was expecting something wild at that point, like reggae or dubstep or African drummers but these songs are more like summaries of what's gone before. In other context, they're strong songs too but Hypnotic Floor set us up to expect more out of each successive number and they can't continue to deliver that forever.

I'm sure I'm not the only critic to categorise Hypnotic Floor as stoner rock and there's enough fuzz on the guitar to cement that. However, they're more of a psychedelic folk rave jam sort of band. Is that a thing? It should be, because it's very easy to get lost in songs like Fall or Foggy Bog Eyes. If you laced the Stone Roses' beer with acid and pushed them onto the Cropredy stage with instruments in their hands, they might just sound like this.

I wish I knew who the musicians are so I could give them appropriate credit. Let's just say they all do their job well, even the guitarist when he steps up to the mike because the vocals do drive some of this, especially Woods. I might suggest that this would be a strong instrumental album but, unlike a lot of stoner rock albums, this one would lose something without that folky voice. I like their music and will happily take it however they dish it out.

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