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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Album Review: Landskap - I

Landskap may be a common word in Scandinavia (you can probably guess its meaning) but this coming-together of 60s and 70s heavy psych obsessives actually hail from London, England. Formed in 2012 by members of Father Sun, SerpentCult, Fen, Pantheist and Dead Existence, their debut LP reeks of retrospective magick - right down to the tracklisting. It's a 34-minute, 4-song, 2-track disc - the 2 tracks being a hypothetical Side A and Side B in true arcane vinyl tradition. It is Landskap's refusal to fully bow their heads to modern music industry demands that lands the first blow in their war on the new world in which we all dwell.

From the off, the delicately-balanced 12 minutes of layering that constitute "A Nameless Fool" draw inspiration from Pentagram's psychedelic catalogue combined with Sabbath's soft-sided drift. There's an opening explosion of cymbals and strings that drop off into a cosmos-wandering solo. As the bell tolls in, the emotional atmosphere and elephantine pacing is set for Jake Harding's sultry resonant vocal to impart his words of wisdom into the echoing yonder.

"The things you crave, they draw you near / Desire's reason remains unclear / But still you crawl on weathered hands / Dragging down your fellow man."

As the demonic solo drops you'll find yourself straining to pick up a wedge of fat-stringed dissonance. Had they thrown that in, you'd be staring straight down the barrel of St. Vitus. In its place, a warbling organ rumbles along in the background sprinkling a fresh layer of cheese. It's immediately clear that Landskap are the preachers and us fans of old school doom are the converted.

Somewhat precariously tacked onto the end of Side A is the menacingly-titled "A Cabin In The Woods". Surprisingly it takes us about as far from the dark horror that its title suggests. Instead, we get a 3-minute gently warbling instrumental full of warming tones and astral patterning that takes us floating towards the exploratory edges of bands like Procul Harum and Pink Floyd.

As Side B kicks in, "Fallen So Far" rolls up with a feisty riff and a dark purpose. There's one initial smack of heady psych rock before it all settles back into doom-laden verses with a dissonant, splattering bass and antagonistic choruses. The whole stomp soon steps it all up into double-time and we're quickly careering towards a noisy oblivion. Headbangers beware - this is a beast.

"To Harvest The Storm" is another warm-toned instrumental with top-end wandering bass and twinkling, echoing Doors-esque organ. As the guitars kick in the rhythm gets more urgent and the smacks of Deep Purple and Hendrix begin to really come through. By the end you'll be jiving to the Hammond-induced psychedelics like a tripped-out turkey, arms flailing, head rotating, lost in the midsts of some intense Woodstockian flashback. Yes, at 12:30 it is a monster but, by god, it's worth every second for the intense surge of climactic pleasure that it offers.

Way too short, yet beguilingly sweet and utterly absorbing, you could wedge this debut into the heart of your old man's record collection and he wouldn't even flinch. It's hard to decide whether Landskap are retro to the point of being reclusive obsessives or whether they just invented a time machine and brought this "debut" back as a gift. Whichever, a debt is owed.

Also online @ Scratch The Surface = http://www.scratchthesurface-webzine.com/2014/04/landskap-i-review.html
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