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Zone Six- Beautiful EP (re-release 2022. Sulatron Records)

A long time ago, in December 1997 to be precise, a couple of gifted musicians found each other and started jamming. They jammed for hours and hours, and decided that they would name themselves Zone Six. At that time the band consisted of a couple of ex-Liquid Vision members (Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt, Hans-Peter Ringholz, and Claus B├╝hler), a keyboard player named Rusty, and an amazing female singer from Australia by the name of Jodi Barry. The EP pretty much revolves around her Portishead-like story telling, while the band anticipates and weaves its patterns of psychedelic triphop jamming.

The EP starts off with Something’s Missing, a mysteriously spiraling thing, that strangely resonates the lyrics “Beautiful” throughout its ten minute haze. Jodi Barry’s vocals are of a mystique subdued beauty that fits the mystery. The lyrics forbode the next song Beautiful, which is a twelve minute triphop piece revolving around Jodi Barry telling her creeped out story about Jack and Jill. It is quite a different piece to anything Zone Six did before or after, but that’s also the cool thing about it. It makes you wonder what this amazing vocalist did after Zone Six, apparently she moved back to Australia but I cannot find anything else…

I guess it is a fitting final mystery for this hazy little gem, which will be released on “beautiful” green vinyl by Sulatron Records. An obligatory buy for later krautrock completist to say the least.

Instrumental Triple feature: Noorvik vs. Der Neue Planet vs. Trigona (2022, Tonzonen Records/Echodelick Records, Worst Bassist Records)

Last time when I talked about instrumental music I discovered the German outfits Kombynat Robotron and Shem and did a double feature. Then Tonzonen Records and Echodelick Records sent me these instrumental records and I told myself it was time to do it again, but tripled this time. For instrumental music is a different kind of animal. It leaves something to be filled in at the dots for the listener. And it often invites its audience to dive into their minds, or out, which makes for a completely different listening experience than with their more, ahem, “vocal” brethren…

Der Neue Planet (The new planet in German) are an instrumental stoner prog band that takes full advantage of the fact that they don’t have to bother about stuff like verses or choruses, rhymes, or repetition. Opener Heavy Dream Prog describes their sound quite aptly in a song that shoots back and forth from heavy stoner walls to chilled out dungeon jazz, to stoner disco and everything in between in a near ten minute journey. It’s seriously heavy music, but there is room for tongue in cheek humor too, just like on their album title and cartoonish artwork. Area Fifty-Fun is exactly that; it’s a heavy psychedelic fun trip that rides like an amusement park.

Noorvik are the heavy brothers of this triplet. The music on Hamartia is serious, epic, and leans pretty close to metal at times, from massive doomed out postmetal, to more uptempo riffage and even a couple of blast beat volleys. If you picture a singer like Michael Akerfeldt fronting this band with a good deep grunt they would actually do a pretty good oldschool Opeth/Katatonia crossbreed.

Now, without human voice, the music forces you to use your own imagination for the imagery. The music becomes a painter’s palette picturing vast glacial landscapes, tall and impenetrable mountain ranges, but also peaceful ponds of calmness and serenity. Noorvik are a force of nature, conjuring up the rawness and beauty of our planet quite vividly.

The only non-German band that I will talk about here actually plays the most kraut oriented music of the three, and starts off with a song called Von Graf…but that’s pure coincidence of course. Trigona from Australia does motorik instrumentals like they were born somewhere between the 80s of Neu! and the 90s of bands like Karma To Burn with a sound that holds a pretty good middle ground between the motorik repetition of krautrock and the heaviness of stoner.

The strength of the album is that each song swirls away in a different inner mindset, taking the listener on six completely different trips, but without losing a strong band identity. I like it best when Trigona pumps out a Joy Division bass line, and then completely drives it into outer space with its gravitational reverbing guitar parts. It’s transcendental music, made for levitation and rising above the daily grind. Stuff to aspire to.

Kimono Drag Queens- Songs Of Worship (2020 Copper Feast Records)

So I am a freak, right? A weirdo. And this is my shrine, my Weirdo Shrine. And of course we need some songs of worship; so presto changeo: Songs Of Worship by Kimono Drag Queens is here to provide that soundtrack!

But first: play this:

Ok, now that you’re warm and cozy: what’s the fuzz about here? I am reading David Mitchell’s new novel Utopia Avenue, and this is an excellent soundtrack to it. The book is brand new, it just came out this year, but it’s subjectmatter is as retro as it gets. It’s about a newly formed psychedelic rock band in early sixties London. They hang out with the likes of Sydd Barret, David Bowie, and many more while there is always some spot-on tune lurking in the background. The thing is: it is non-apologetically new, but it takes elements from the psychedelic sixties and transforms it into something similar yet quite different. Just like Kimono Drag Queens.

Here is an Australian band that will appeal to the Khruangbin crowd, as well as to fellow countrymen like Tame Impala or King Gizzard (but their more mellow side). They cut their psychedelics with pretty poppy hooks, sometimes even going a little overboard on the sweet and sugary to my taste. Songs Of Worship is strongest when it explores repetition, taking on an extremely comfortable floaty, atmospheric, fleeting sound. Kudos to their producer too, because soundwise this is a treat.

Wild Animals has a strong Band Of Skulls vibe which I dig, while Evil Desires shears past my allergy zone with its merry Afro-beats and guitar lines, but it saves itself as it gets a tad heavier along the way with some rhythmic fireworks at the end. Willys World starts of a little problematic with its obligatory guitar/sitar sounds, but develops as the album’s strongest song with a perfect built-up and a powerful head-bobbing riff that will worm itself inside your head for a while afterwards.

Like Utopia Avenue, Songs Of Worship won’t necessarily bring new content to the table, but it does provide a modern angle to psychedelics that sheds some new light to it. Besides that, it is a very pleasant listen that will go down easily like some THC-infused candy. Sometimes too sweet to my taste, yet addictive all the same.