Whenever I search various websites for new (to me) psych bands, the name of Earthless almost always crops up for some reason or in some connection. And once again, I find that band’s name mentioned in association with San Francisco’s GOLDEN VOID whose members have been connected musically off and on since they were teenagers.
You see, it was when Earthless guitarist Isaiah Mitchell moved to the Bay Area in 2009 and hooked up again with Aaron Morgan (bass) and Justin Pinkerton (drums) that the band took form. Realising that their sound required the enhancement of a keyboard player, it seemed only natural to invite Isaiah’s wife, Camilla Saufly-Mitchell, and the band was complete.
This debut album has been available for a few months now I gather, but it was only when the band recently released the video for ‘The Curve’ that it came to my attention. That particular track really sucked me in. Like a frenzied psych sojourn, it explodes, relaxes, drifts and then explodes again as it picks up the listener and hurls him ultimately into a maelstrom of guitar riffs and Hammond organ swirls. A real psych freakout!
It’s possibly the best track of the seven and most definitely the one that should have been hung out there for listeners like me to bite!
But then this is one massive album! There’s not really a weak track amongst them, and in closing track ‘Atlantis,’ GOLDEN VOID show they have subtler moments. This seven-minute epic holds back on the pace and centres more on the sun-drenched desert-rock harmonies and a sort of ‘rolling’ drum rhythm.
The drum-style is actually a bit of a feature of the album itself, with the percussion providing a wide and substantial base on which the heavy guitar and riffs are supported.
There’s no denying a bit of a ‘retro’ feel to this album and even although it really encompasses the likes of psych, classic rock, and even prog-folk styles at various points, I find it difficult NOT to reference bands such as Uriah Heep. Check tracks such as the opener ‘Art of Invading’ which features a bassline and riff not too dissimilar to that of (especially) the live version of Heep‘s ‘ ‘Look At Yourself‘ …. when that track goes into a little mid-song breakdown. The vocals too remind me of early Uriah Heep and I suppose that feeling is accentuated by the liberal incorporation of the Hammond organ.
And then we have the references to Black Sabbath and more specifically, Ozzy Ozbourne‘s vocal style on the likes of ‘Virtue.‘ It’s the slight reverb on the voice that does it I think.
‘Jetsun Dolma‘ has more of a bluesy feel that is nicely emphasised with an understated guitar solo. In fact, I’ve got to mention the guitar work throughout – each track features solos that vary from the blues influence in the track just mentioned to the searing and soaring tones of ”The Curve.‘
Which is where we came in.
I love this album. Sure, it may have one foot in the past – but it has the other in the future. I know – I have seen it!
(‘Golden Void’ is available now – February 2013 – through Thrill Jockey Records.)
(8 / 10)