There are few bands that have been operating within the world of neopsychedelic music for as long, nor as flawlessly, as The Spacious Mind. Their latest release, The No. 4 Or 5 Gravy Band, is further proof of this.
This is a record of vast range, as every extreme of volume is thoroughly explored; from gentle chiming and clinking percussion all of the way to howling distorted guitars that ricochet in all directions like the remnants of a cataclysmic supernova. Throughout the entire album, your mind and ears are subjected to a kaleidoscopic array of different moods, sonic textures and styles.
The No. 4 Or 5 Gravy Band opens with “The Cinnamon Tree,” which creeps along at a gradual, meditative pace, while hypnotically repetitive drumming, quiet shimmering cymbals and spacy slide-guitar give the entire piece a mystical, shamanic-like quality. The track eventually gives way to chanting vocals that bring to mind some of the more ritualistic moments of Six Organs of Admittance. All in all, this track does a perfect job at pulling the listener into the world and environment of the record.
Following this perfect opener is the eerie and unsettling “You Don’t Know It But You Are”. The seven and a half minute track begins with clacking, ticking wooden percussive sounds, which are backed by a slowly intensifying oscillating drone. It starts to sound not unlike something that you might expect from Mark Korven’s score for The Witch, before the piece is overtaken by the ever-increasing drones and glassy, Frippian backwards guitars. Like a wailing windstorm, the track ebbs and flows, dipping down to a mellow hum and rising back to a piercing shriek, before calming once again.
Without warning, the track smashes violently into the album’s closer, “Creekin’ At The Goose”. A crack of thunderous guitar feedback clashing with a maelstrom of crashing drums shakes away any sense of calm that the preceding two songs may have brought. After a few minutes of pure cacophony, the noise recedes until all that is left if a machine-like beat and a sickly distorted guitar. The improvisational guttural guitar work is eventually joined by ethereal bells and reverb-saturated slide, which together gives the track a disturbed dream-like feel. After several minutes of this, the tempo shifts hard and the piece mutates into a hard driving acid rocker, complete with thick, smokin’ riffs and mind warping solos. This segment would surely blow the mind of anyone within earshot.
Ultimately, the song winds down to a rather murky, shadowy epilogue of deep, metallic piano and what might possibly be singing bowls grumbling and vibrating together. A fitting end to a record that is way more of an experience than an album.
Of course, being a release from Essence Music, the record comes housed in a beautifully hand-screenprinted package (or hand painted, depending on the edition that you purchase) with an eye-popping fold out poster/inner sleeve that is truly a perfect compliment to the metaphysical and sacred music contained within. Be sure to grab one fast, as each edition is very limited and very enticing.