Tuesday, 29 January 2013

It's Not Night: It's Space - Bowing Not Knowing To What (album review)

It's Not Night: It's Space has got to be one of the coolest band names out there (Shortens to INNIS).  It's the kind of name that makes one kick one's head back and say, "oh, yeah ... that's true, I've never thought of it that way before".  So after making the all-name team, the question remained, is the music as revelatory as the name itself?

The album starts off with a droned intro ("The Gathering") featuring a clip from Terence McKenna, spilling forth into "The Mantis & The Cow", featuring the voice and spirit of Aleister Crowley.  There's an aura about this album that begins to take shape even on this first full track: the unfulfilled promise of hidden knowledge, the spiking of one's drink.  The experience of the initiate symbolically bound, broken, destroyed and reborn.

"The Gathering" has a Mesopotamian vibe to it with a dry arid drone and flutes, which flows mood-wise perfectly into the sandstormy appeal of "The Mantis & The Cow".  As an overall presence, the album is highly cinematic.  Not so much a moving picture soundtrack but the film itself being converted into sound.  One can see the story play out before their mind's eye.  The initiate arrives via some fantastic machine in the desert to wander in search of the Mystery School.  When we hear the voice of Mr. Crowley, we know the initiate has found it, buried in the sand.  Very tasteful use of understated and fluttering flute by guest Deborah Gillespie brings it all home and makes for an almost endorphin releasing finish.

I begin to feel a bit like Alex DeLarge, as I viddied "I saw such wonderful pictures", each track opening new panoramic vistas.  It's not all beauty, however.  Music that is truly psychedelic gives the listener at times that ever so slightly sinister vibe of paranoia, confusion and hidden dangers.  "Painted Serpent" and "Blue Mountain Freedom" showcase the dark side quite well.  But the band always pulls the listener through and manages to end things on a positive or hopeful note, as in "The Mantis & The Cow" which moves the listener from cold mystery to warm comfort.  This is key.  The band shows no fear when confronted by dangers because they can see past the worldly outer appearance of things to their true nature and that there is nothing to fear.

But as regards the worldly, there's no shortage of musical tricks up this band's sleeve,  making the most of their allotted span and rewarding their kickstarter contributors with 50 minutes of guided meditation.  The band might vamp on a single riff for minutes at a time then suddenly take flight only to pull the brakes returning at half speed.  "Blue Mountain Freedom" is one of the more dynamic songs in the set and uses the novel technique of winding the song down for the big stereotypical rock and roll finish, in the middle of the track, only to crank it back up.  The band goes out with a huge bang on epic closing track "Palace of the Bees".  Full-on eastern vibe with sitar to boot.  I interpret the subject of the title as a typical office building, the music turns my spirit to a long-forgotten mist enshrouded past, my mind's eye to the future gazing through a crystal ball at the absurdity of it all.

Though there truly is a lot to be said for a band that can maintain a consistent tonal feel throughout an album, It's Not Night: It's Space don't do that here.  For that reason 'Bowing Not Knowing To What' reads more like an anthology than a novel, taking the listener through a middle eastern desert scene to a needle-spired insectine palace in the far and cold outer reaches of some nameless and dread galaxy.  INNIS continually change the reel in the mind's eye theater, taking the listener to some weird places, sometimes wonderful, sometimes horrible but always with a third eye that sees beyond the worldly to the cosmic.

Highlights include: "The Mantis & The Cow" and "Palace of the Bees"

Rating: 4/5

Total Run Time: 50:20

From: New Platz, New York

Genre: Psychedelic, Stoner, Instrumental, Experimental

Reminds me of: Iron Mtn.. Om, SardoniS, Soundgarden

Release Date: October 11, 2012

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: Seeing beyond the worldly to the true nature of reality.

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