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King Buffalo- Acheron (2021, Stickman Records)

Earlier this year in May I reviewed King Buffalo’s masterpiece The Burden Of Restlessness and talked with singer/guitarist Sean McVey about it. He promised us two more records then, and true to his word follow up Acheron is released this winter, and a third record will follow somewhere early next year. It is one the few upsides to these horrible pandemic years, that musicians like King Buffalo had nothing better to do than jam by themselves a lot and make lots of new music for us to enjoy and soothe our mangled spirits somewhat.

Acheron was recorded in a jam session in a dark cave with the band focussing less on songwriting and more on atmosphere and dynamics, resulting in four long songs all clocking in around ten minutes. They show King Buffalo at their most contemplative and inward, subconsciously reminding of their brilliant Repeater EP. It is definitely music to loosen your mind to, and let your thoughts float freely, guided by the sparse use of vocals, and the meandering jams.

King Buffalo

What strikes me most upon listening more closely is that where on The Burden Of Restlessness the band was a lot more open and direct both in their songwriting and in their lyrics, with Acheron the band and lyric writer Sean McVey return to more distant sketches and natural symbolism to express their mood. It makes the record a much more “heady” affair, inviting the listeners more to create their own images and meaning. For me personally it is a more distant experience than The Burden, which was one of those rare pieces of arts that hit me directly in the feels. I felt related to it instantly, whereas Acheron is a piece of music that dig a lot, I still love their sound and I love the way it pulls me into the music and trips me out for ten minutes per song, yet it doesn’t touch me as personally as King Buffalo did before.

That does not make it any less of a musical endeavor though. Nor do I think there can be too much of a good thing when it comes to artists like King Buffalo. With a record like Acheron they made us jam with them in a dark room with them and turn a moment of isolation into a deep creative experience. What is not to love about that?

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