Samsara Blues Experiment - - Long Distance Trip [World In Sound - 2010]Samsara Blues Experiment play truly psychedelic rock with a modern stoner metal twist. They obviously love their classic rock, and do list Led Zeppelin as a primary influence, but their songwriting and perfect synergy as players make this album a real standout from the pack that never sounds much like any single other band.
The word Samsara apparently means ' to flow together', which applies very well to their smooth, ethereal quieter moments. While perhaps not as 'experimental' as the other part of their name would suggest, this very tight band seriously grooves, and with this level of energy and confidence coming from the players, there's never a dull moment. On top of that, the production is wonderful, feeling warm and alive as if the band were playing in front of you. The tasteful, lovely guitar tone works perfectly in both the classic psych rock and modern stoner metal idioms.
Album opener "Singata Mystic Queen" is such a tasty jam, one of my favorite songs I've heard all year. The opening extended jam is filled with absolutely beautiful atmospheric effects that will immediately draw you in. The track is mostly instrumental, but there's an incredibly powerful use of a short vocal part near the end, ending whimsically with a smoothly intoned "...because I love her." It's an emotional, triumphant peak of the album. Guitarist/vocalist Christian Peters is a German with more than a little Elvis and Karl Hyde (of Underworld) in him. He can scream with the best of them and still keep his pitch. In the latter half of the track, tasty, fuzzed out doom riffs come in right when they should. Your head will be banging.
Next they blast you in the face with a balls out number called "Army of Ignorance". You almost don't even notice it's an instrumental. The band shows you their Sabbath-esque chops and ability to fall into tighter structures. They step in Electric Wizard territory with the intro and slowest moments. There isn't much progression to this song - the same sections are repeated often; it ends on one of the first riffs. This is the band at their most derivative, but I think few could deny that it rocks, and is well placed on the album.
"For the Lost Souls" is just a brilliant song full of scorching riffs, and maybe the heaviest thing here. The chorus refrain is just fucking awesome - "They call you a sinner / Since the day you're born / Let's say you had a chance to tell / Or live a lie?" In the second half of the song, the band mellows out only to build up to a raging, emotional climax and a smashing reiteration of the chorus. A masterpiece of a song.
"Center of the Sun" has a beautiful intro and subsequent extended jam. The latter part of it echoes with sublime, doubled sunset voices. The song drifts until becoming a weaker, plodding heavy track. There are some bluesy riffs that sound just like Electric Wizard, though the vocals are of course better. The predictable chorus ending in the title line "right inside the center... of the suuuuun!" could have repeated a few less times, though similar repetitions in their other songs have seemed welcome. Definitely a well written, dynamic track overall.
"Wheel of Life" is the album's second instrumental, a short pensive, simple guitar melody that impressively accomplishes a colorful, surrealistic calm without using many notes. It's like meditating on top of a misty mountain after a long trek. A great change of pace.
The 26 minute "Double Freedom", an even-more-epic among epics, manages to be even bigger, heavier and overwhelming than all of the other tracks. At 5 minutes the band kicks into high gear and just lets one thick chord roll over you. The band knows it was a great build up so they do it AGAIN, for even more devastating effect. These riffs seem to extend on to infinity. Christian's warbling, processed voice asks "Won't you take my hand / And let it be real?" The haunting sound is complimented by the mystic sound of the sitar. The impassioned, powerful yell of "We're on a long distance trip!" is a perfect climax to the album. I'd actually love it if they played an even longer version of this live.
The slightly weaker tracks "Army of Ignorance" and "Center of the Sun" do nothing to bring you down from the incredible high of the other 4 tracks - still a flowing, great experience, an air guitar inspiring sort of record that really carries you away. I found myself listening to it again and again, drawn to its lovely atmosphere and thick guitar sound. With bands like this around, you don't have to wish you'd been alive in the 70's. What will they do next?