Tuesday 22 December 2020

Acid Moon and the Pregnant Sun - Speakin' of the Devil (2020)

Country: Israel
Style: Psychedelic Rock
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 9 Jul 2020
Sites: Bandcamp | Facebook

Here's something agreeably different that only grows over its seven songs. The gorgeous cover art, by Branca Studio, might look like an occult paperback thriller from the seventies, but Acid Moon and the Pregnant Sun are an eight piece psychedelic rock band from Tel Aviv and this debut album sounds like a cross between Jefferson Airplane and John Kongos, with Oasis and the Rolling Stones on the side. If that means we can't even place a logical decade for the sound, so be it.

As you might expect from a hippie-infused summer of love sound, the opener is called I Love You, but it mixes its handclaps with jangly guitar and fuzz, making this a a darker journey worthy of the album title. Speakin' of Speakin' of the Devil, that's up next and it finds that John Kongos sort of groove, an underlining riff that carries everything else along with it. The vocals fit Kongos too, rough and raspy but always driven by melody and building to a singalong chorus big enough for us all to join in on. It isn't as catchy a chorus as Kongos tended to find but it's still in the same vein, as is the wild and funky breakdown six and a half minutes in.

And, if we haven't noticed the psychedelia yet, which we really should have done, we can't miss it on a real acid trip of a song called Creatures of the Abyss. It starts out with handheld tribal drums, adding guitars that chime so fluidly that I wondered if they're deliberately mimicking koras. There are words here, albeit presented in the offbeat way that Frank Zappa might, but most of the vocals aren't at all intelligible because they're manipulated in weird ways, sped up but also chopped up and reassembled just out of phase. The result is rather like Gong jamming with Ballaké Sissoko at a Zappa soirée. With everyone on LSD. It even morphs into Golden Brown at one point, as the backdrop to our sightseeing trip into the abyss. What a strange and wonderful song!

Creatures of the Abyss is such an acid trip that I don't think I acknowledged the next two songs at all, being drawn back out of my stunned reverie when Save Me unfolded like a funky Rolling Stones track. Going back deliberately to them, Wide is a heavy and emphatic Jefferson Airplane while Bright Sky at Night goes back further to the folk musicians who influenced them, but under a voice that's so rough and deep that it's like Lou Reed singing alt country. Even at only three minutes, the latter sounds like it wants to put us into a trance state, foreshadowing the album's closer, Sparrow.

First, though, there's Save Me, which is right out of the Stones songbook, but with even more drugs fuelling the recording session. There are at least four singers on this album, so I don't generally know which broken voice is singing what, but the voice on this one is Yoel Chajes, as he's a guest with just that one credit. I would put money on the fact that he's impersonated Mick Jagger before, because surely that's why he got asked to front a song with such a Stones backing. He's a little over the top but that fits this album.

And, having been livened up by Save Me, we're promptly calmed down again with Sparrow, which is so calm that's almost Hawaiian. Its evocation of lapping waves reminds of Fleetwood Mac's Albatross and that gives us the opportunity to think about where Acid Moon and the Pregnant Sun have taken us in the previous six tracks: counterculture San Francisco, a busy market in Bamoko, the innerspace of an acid trip and swinging London. Now we're in hammocks on a Caribbean beach, sipping rum as the sun sets over the ocean. Someone down the way is playing Dylan on a portable radio but we're not paying attention to anything but the soothing rhythm.

Yeah, it's that sort of album. You dig?

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