Wednesday, 5 February 2014

The New Alchemy - On The Other Side Of Light

Brave reinvention from former Soundtrack Of Our Lives singer. Atonal dirges, revolutionary rock and free jazz make for some enjoyably un-easy listening.

Ebbot Lundberg will be best known to most of us as the lead singer of almost famous band The Soundtrack Of Our Lives. While they didn't fit neatly into the Britpop led guitar revival, not gaining as much press coverage as they deserved, for those in the know they were a bright beacon of hope, releasing inventive yet catchy, intelligent indie rock. Noel Gallagher was a fan, taking the band on tour with Oasis and even copping ideas and arrangements from them for his own ends. Lyla anyone? (A fact strangely predicted on TSOOL's song 21st Century Rip Off on their 2001 album Behind The Music perhaps?)

Lundberg's latest project sees him re-unite with his old pal and collaborator, sound artist Per Svensson. The pair met in the '80s at the Radium 226.05, Gothenburg's multi-media art space. It's a shared sense of exploration and “making new” that permeates all five tracks of the pair's first musical release On The Other Side Of The Light. Although the album has many classic musical touchstones (The Doors, The Velvet Underground, Funkadelic, The Stooges, John Coltrane), it's unlike any other record you're likely to hear this year. Backward phasing, squalling reedy free-jazz sax lines, spoken word, distortion, and dirge-like chord progressions. It feels as if psychedelic rock has re-ignited its revolutionary spark, connected with a long lost progressive bent.

Opening track Solar Eclipse is the most free-form offering. A beat-less, rhythm-less cut up let's you know that this is going to be a ride not for the faint-hearted. Afterwards things become slightly more trad, though no less impressive. The album closes with the Extra Terrestrial Blues. At 24 minutes in length it may test the average music fan's patience but those that stick it out will be rewarded with lyrics of stones, sunrise, rituals and ceremonies. Dark lost magick complete with poetry, drone and free jazz sax and organ. In between the relatively light title track channels a Nordic, pagan version of Pink Floyd, slowly lurching forward towards in search of some long lost arcane knowledge.

Factor in the album cover's black and white mandala, festooned with flaming eye, runes and hieroglyphics, and the photo of Lundberg and Svensson posing with standing stones on the back cover, and a one sitting headphone listen in a dark room will take you to places in your mind you didn't know existed.

Click here for more on The New Alchemy.
Click here for Subliminal Sounds.