Australia seems to be the most fertile ground for all kinds of psychedelically-inclined music these days. Melbourne’s Hotel Wrecking City Traders is one of many great examples of this and for proof, just check out their latest record, Passage to Agartha.

The record is loaded with brutally heavy cosmic slabs of instrumental, metallic post-rock epics that all pass the ten-minute mark. There’s some very tight musicianship going on all across the album, as  it’s hard to tell if the group is improvising so well that the songs sound expertly rehearsed or that they’re so expertly rehearsed that it sounds like that they’re improvising (much like any great jazz group). The image on the cover fits the music perfectly, as most of the songs feel like astral explosions and planetary excavations.

Tracks like “Kanged Cortex” and “Ohms of the Cavern Current” throb with furious drones and sludgy guitars and sway to hypnotic, hammering beats. A major highlight here is the record’s climax, the 23-minute nebulous suite that is “Oroshi.” The piece is built of many separate movements, which brings to mind other massive hallucinatory epics, like Pink Floyd’s “Echoes” or King Crimson’s “Lizard.” The track starts with a creeping, soft wash of white noise and reverb-drenched guitar that feels like a slowly encroaching storm, before the beat eventually picks up and the guitar work becomes more fast paced and intricate while weirdly psychedelic electro-noises infiltrate the background. The track then moves into a crescendo with a wall of distorted guitar and a heavy use of crashing, almost gong-like cymbals, which continue to ring out until everything grinds to a sudden halt with a simple ‘click,’ like as if someone pulled the plug on the entire band. It’s a hilariously abrupt end that comes out of nowhere. You’d really expect for the song to fade out or keep advancing to the next movement, but it just ends. This cold cut reminds me very much of the anti-climatic ending of “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” by The Beatles. The resulting unexpected silence is so jarring; it makes for a memorable ending to a very noisy and heavy album.

If you like your acid rock to be blaring and chaotic, then you have to give Passage to Agartha a try. The CD may be sold out, but you can still nab a color or standard black vinyl copy (or digital) through Cardinal Fuzz/Evil Hoodoo Records.



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