When I saw that there was a new Black Sky Giant album out, I assumed that it was the follow-up to what I thought was their debut, Planet Terror, which I enjoyed back in 2021. Well, it turns out that these unknown Argentineans have been busy. Not only was there at least an album before Planet Terror, as Orbiter came out in 2020 and was remastered in 2021, but two more sprang up after it, in 2021's Falling Mothership and last year's End of Days Pilgrimage. I need to pay more attention! So this is at least a fifth for Black Sky Giant and it's just as good as Planet Terror.
For those who didn't take that trip with me almost two years ago, this is a band or project who are based in Argentina but play thoroughly accessible psychedelic rock that's warm and encompassing without the fuzzy distortion of stoner rock. The other genre I see mentioned a lot is space rock and that needs a caveat. Black Sky Giant don't sound at all like Hawkwind, but they do seem to elevate off our planet. Both At the Gates and Stardust feature wonderful bass runs that I picture as us on the surface of a planet exploring what's there, while the guitars are vibrant lights in the sky, way up above us to marvel at.
At the Gates is my favourite piece of music here—song seems like the wrong term to use with each song being entirely instrumental—but it's not by much, because everything is up to a pretty solid standard, starting with the opening title track. It only runs three and a half minutes, which isn't a long time to establish a new setting to transport us into. It manages it, not least in its last handful of seconds, which add a population to whatever strange planet we've found ourselves on. They feel like the beginning of At the Gates before that track starts proper, and so flavour our take on it.
And it's a wonderful piece. Everything about Black Sky Giant seems to involve motion for me, with other elements added depending on the track. This is excellent from the start, as we explore this strange new world, but it elevates halfway through when it drops back just a little to highlight the bass and so split this into two levels. It's not just us exploring any more, it's whoever was there on this planet before us watching us and attempting to communicate. The result is joyous.
Stardust is a continuation, but it's a little less emphatic. The Great Hall adds that emphasis back, but never in a dangerous way. Black Sky Giant take us on journeys, and they're rich and evocative journeys, but they never feel dangerous to me. Nothing out there in the great beyond is eager to eat me or threaten me or imprison me. I wouldn't call this happy music per se but it always leaves me in a better mood than I brought with me. I'm not quite sure what I've learned and experienced but it was clearly a net positive.
That holds even into The Foundational Found Tapes, the eight and a half minute epic that wraps up the album. While the guitars dance like fireflies, there's a low tone behind them that really ought to feel ominous, but somehow it doesn't. Maybe there's something out there in the darkness that moves in the shadows but I never felt that it was anything to worry about, especially with the click and shimmy of film equipment, as if we're hearing this track through a slides-driven presentation. Given the title, I wonder if it was built out of parts of songs, a Frankenstein's monster of a piece. It works a little less coherently than everything else, but it still works.
Now, I need to get hold of those albums that I've missed. Quite frankly, whoever's behind Black Sky Giant ought to be happy with a couple of albums of the quality of Planet Terror and Primigenian in only a couple of years. That that's only half their output just elevates them even higher. If you like your stoner rock low on fuzz and high on warmth and imagination, this is the psychedelic rock that you ought to track down. It rarely blows my mind, but it carries me effortlessly and it's as reliable as it gets.