Friday 29 January 2021

Black Sky Giant - Planet Terror (2021)

Country: Argentina
Style: Psychedelic Rock
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 16 Jan 2021
Sites: Bandcamp | Facebook

Somehow I switched on auto-replay on VLC and listened through Planet Terror for much longer than I had planned. It's an immersive release, containing seven songs to fall into, but in a slightly different way to normal. Instead of our simply aiming to explore the depths of the music, we want the music to become our surroundings so that we can explore where it takes us. For instance, Ghost Valley Truckers is notably well named because we fall into the rhythm of the road as we roar through Ghost Valley at night, wherever that is. It's not the soundtrack, it's the trance state that the road soothes us into and the hyperfocus we find on what else is going on.

Black Sky Giant hail from Rosario, four hours up the road from Buenos Aires, and they play a form of stoner rock with the fuzz turned down and the psychedelic warmth turned up. There are sections that are heavier than others, but the focus is more on bluesy psychedelia than doom metal crunch. There's plenty of Black Sabbath here, of course, but that influence is more obvious from spacier songs like Planet Caravan than its more famous brethren. Mix it with some Shine On You Crazy Diamond and the psychedelic blues of Robin Trower's Bridge of Sighs, then up the tempo and you'll have Black Sky Giant doing Yithian Time Travellers.

I should add that this is entirely instrumental, though there's a sample right as the album begins and a few more as it runs on, especially on the final track, The Phantom Gun. I'm tempted to argue that an affectation for westerns is the final piece of this puzzle, because there was a spaghetti western feel on Asteroid Hermit long before we get to The Phantom Gun. As the cover art suggests, we find ourselves deep into weird western territory here.

Everything is a frontier, whether we're out in the belt mining asteroids, battling monsters on an alien planet or driving through the desert night keeping our eyes open for bandits. There isn't much space rock, merely moments in and amongst songs like Ulameth (Endbringer), but there are keyboards to paint textures in sound and make us feel like we're on a journey. The samples on Ghost Valley Truckers feel like rare radio signals getting through, before leaving us alone with our thoughts once more, back out on the frontier beyond the reach of other humans. What species are those bandits?

It still seems strange to me, however many times I've listened through this album now, that there's an overt sense of desolation on so many of these tracks, given that the tone is emphatically warm. I think it's because the soft beat is so relentless and the bass pulses ever onwards, ensuring that we never feel that we're anything but confident and safe, however far from home we roam and how much danger we might run into out there in the middle of nowhere. It's wonderful worldbuilding.

My favourite track is Ulameth (Endbringer), though it's a little longer than it should be. It starts out like a fifties B-movie, but then focuses inward. Initially, it struggles to find itself, as if it's focusing on a point that it can never reach, but, a couple of minutes in, it focuses even further inward. This album is warm and liquid and organic from the beginning, but it gets downright amniotic on Ulameth. This one feels like being in the womb. Maybe that counts as another frontier, one we're not quite ready to breach yet.

I wish I knew who the musicians were on this album so I could praise them for their work. I can't find out much of anything about Black Sky Giant, just that they're from Argentina and they recorded this last month, making it a quick release. In fact, I know more about the cover art than I do the band; the Bandcamp page for the album tells me that's by Pablo González, who is GonzoSkulls on Instagram, as cool a name as I've ever coveted. He illustrated this album well, but so did the musicians who brought it to life.

Now, let me reload my six shooter and saddle up my trusty steed, then we can venture out once more to tangle with the monsters lurking beyond the perimeter.

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