Wednesday 12 January 2022

Blue Rumble - Blue Rumble (2022)

Country: Switzerland
Style: Psychedelic Rock
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 12 Jan 2022
Sites: Bandcamp | Instagram

Just to underline that not every psychedelic rock band has to arrive in the form of a trio, here's an amazing quartet from Zürich by the name of Blue Rumble. Hey, I hit the motherlode earlier in the month with Blue Merrow; why not try double dipping with Blue Rumble? Well, they're not as good as the Spaniards, but then precious few are. They are, however, still really good and I can imagine this debut album getting a lot of repeat plays here at Chaos Central. It reminds me of the type of obscure album I'd see pinned to the walls of second hand record store with crazy price tags next to them. The internet has made that sort of material available to the masses, but this album is even easier to find, given that it's downloadable from Bandcamp for whatever you want to pay for it.

It's very seventies psych, so much so that the acid almost drips off the screen while it's playing. I'd suggest a couple of comparisons that I can hear, but I think most of the influences are deeper and I just don't have the depth of background in obscure seventies psych to call them out. While this is easily accessible, as I've found most psychedelic rock to be, even if, like me, you're not listening to it under the influence of modern chemistry, it feels like it's going to find its true audience in niche communities who just live for this stuff.

The more useful influences I can cite are Deep Purple and Focus, though the first one that sprang to mind was Black Sabbath, because there's a mellow section in the opener, God Knows I Shoulda Been Gone that reminds of them in their more introspective moments. The Purple is apparent in the keyboard work of Ronaldo Rodrigues, who reminds of Jon Lord frequently, especially during a set of solo runs during Cup o' Rosie and then again on Hangman. The Focus is mostly in the guitar of Andrea Gelardini, who channels Jan Akkerman in his riffs, most obviously on The Snake. That's not Akkerman style soloing though, being closer to Dickie Peterson of Blue Cheer or Martin Pugh of Steamhammer, maybe even some Robin Trower and Alvin Lee.

The best and worst aspects of the album can be summed up in one song for me and that's Sunset Fire Opal. It's a decent piece for a couple of minutes, maybe not up to some of what had preceded it but decent nonetheless. Then it drops into a section that just blew me away, as if the music was the gem of its title and the sun hit it exactly right and it flared into life. It's a slow section, one in which the band live up to the rumble in their name. It's gorgeous stuff, held back but majestically so. There's Wishbone Ash in here but Fairport Convention too and we know it's a joyous calm that will build to a furious storm. It does erupt, somewhat, at the four minute mark but the midsection promises more than the finalé could deliver.

Now, Blue Rumble at their worst are still a damn good band. The finalé of Sunset Fire Opal is still good stuff, but it isn't what it could have been and there are other similar points where the band ably sets up more than they can provide. In fact, the next song, The Snake, fits this bill to a degree because it kicks off with a neatly vicious riff from Gelardini and continues on rather nicely, but it's reminiscent of Hocus Pocus and we know how wild that ended up. Of course, there are no insanity vocals here, because the whole album is instrumental, and the flute doesn't show up until Linda a couple of tracks on, but the keyboard runs that might have matched the riff are elsewhere. Now, I should emphasise that Rodrigues is still excellent on this one but it doesn't all come together the way it promises to.

That makes me wonder how long the various musicians in Blue Rumble have played together. It's long enough for them to get pretty damn tight and to hand off between instruments. That's not just the guitar and keyboards, by the way, as there's a great bass section from Sébastien Métens on Think for Yourself and even a drum solo from Harry Silvers on Occhio e Croce. But it may not be quite long enough to have got inside each other's skin yet and I'm looking forward to hearing that on future releases, where the guitars and keyboards can truly duel and trade sequences back and forth and the jams can truly come alive.

There's some of that here already, on pieces like Hangman, but I'm hearing potential as much as accomplishment. I want a second album and a third. Hey, I want the box set of the first half dozen. This is good stuff, but it's surely just the beginning for Blue Rumble.

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