Embark on a mesmerizing trip through the stars
I’ve stumbled upon this band in my daily Facebook wanderings earlier this week as a bunch of Bandcamp codes was posted in a group I’m in. The artwork and description hit a sweet spot and I manage to find one of the codes still working to give it a listen. I was instantly hooked, numbed by the warm trippy vibes of the music, and at the same time psyched by this new discovery.
The band is an instrumental 5-piece coming from Stuttgart (Germany), which is not so easy to find out there aha (no Facebook page, YouTube account, or streaming services). They released their debut ‘The Hill AC‘ in July ’18, around 1 year after recording it in the middle of nowhere, in Bretagne (France). They describe their music as “Psychedelic jam rock from space” and it’s pretty spot on. Their new album ‘II‘ is released today, at 7 PM (hence the publishing timing of this review) through Clostridium Records, a super cool DIY one-man record label from Bochum (Germany). Let’s dive into it!
How’s The Sound?
As you could deduct from the intro and artwork, the sound is quite trippy… Shem is a collective of musicians with a mission, transcending the psychedelic subgenres and influences into a mind-bending super mix. They blend marvelously nagging old-school krautrock, frenetic original space rock, and glorious improvised modern space rock, along with other psych, noise, and drone elements.
The first song, Descencion (as opposed to ascension I guess), is a 14min jam, starting gently on a droney krautrock atmosphere that should lure you in. The motorik vibe is quite strong here, nuanced by some darker ambient touches. Drums, bass, and guitar are locked together on a groove that could go forever. The Quintet progressively ventures further into space while accentuating the first atmosphere. They build lots of textures through noisy guitar thrusts and swirling spacey synths. It breaks down a bit around 9min to give some space to the noise, the bass comes back a couple of minutes later, purring and carrying smoothly this noisy supernova until the end.
With Night, unravels a calmer mood, even more contemplative, soothing us from the noise of the opener. The drums keep a steady pace for each of the other musicians to try things out. Just a few notes here and there, each on its own path, and little by little, everything falls into place. I love how this develops, the tension building smoothly, even if the pace stays really relaxed overall, while it gets slowly louder and thicker to reach the climax.
The Motorik influence strikes back on Fall, setting the course for a 19min super spacey jam. One guitar drenched in reverb rings background noise-induced chords, comfortably numbing us, while the other keeps pressing us with repeated notes. This duality will stay at the core of this track, though in different forms to keep it interesting. The drums and bass play with the pace, bringing us up and down with it, the whole mix emphasized by trippy synths noises from another reality. I love the way they shift the mood throughout the song, dissolving the previous energy into the next. It seems to me they’re liquefying or solidifying the rhythm and melodies as they please. These guys are sonic alchemists! After a strong noisy phase mid-song, they bring back a dynamic beat out of nowhere. While its purpose is definitely to make us shake our asses off, this dreamy other guitar and spaced-out synths layers are still there, captivating us into an atmospheric hazy state. And it works great together, in the end, each serves the other, balancing perfectly the overall feeling, and giving us a blissful listening experiment in the process. The groove inferred here is so prominent at times I can feel it grabbing my guts. I can’t help but picture myself dancing in the middle of the night, in front of the stage as a great festival day ends with these amazing crazy vibes, dissolving into the starry night appeased and uplifted at the same time.
Why is this album worth listening to?
- Shem mastered their super smooth jamming style making it flow so naturally, incorporating lots of slick details without getting too messy.
- ‘II’ is a 3-track, 40min meditative trip drifting through galaxies and dimensions.
- Oscillating between drone, space, kraut, and noise rock, this is a crossroads of hypnotic trippiness.
In what situation should you listen to this album?
With your eyes closed, or looking at the stars, letting your mind wander through time and space…
Anything particular to note?
For Fans Of
Kungens Män, Oresund Space Collective, КОМВУИАТ ЯОВОТЯОИ, Zone Six, The Cosmic Dead
If you don't know what those "Levels" mean, please visit this page.