Thursday, 21 March 2013

Parasol Caravan / Cachimbo de Paz split - Use The Fuzz (album review)

Cover artwork by Johan Jaccob (Glowsun).
Recently, I had the pleasure of discovering Parasol Caravan's 2010 debut EP and was impressed with their funk-slathered groove riffs and the soulful vocals of Alexander Krietchbaum.  So I was pleasantly surprised when Bertram Kolar, one of the funk-slatherers himself, contacted me about saying a few words towards this split album.  I'm not sure exactly how it slipped under my radar for a whole year but it shows up on screen now and hopefully, this will be an introduction for any readers like myself, who has suffered from radar deficiency for the past year.

Parasol Caravan come bounding onto the stage on "The Barbers Snake".  It shows a band ready for their trip in the spotlight.  Complex dynamics with virtuosic performances by the band's twin guitarists, Kolar and Richard Reikersdorfer combine with Krietchbaum's soulful vocals to make a big impression on the listener.  This is a band that has an encyclopedia of tricks up their sleeve and will pull out all the stops to get the point across.

Parasol Caravan use their time on this split wisely, slicing their four cuts down the middle showcasing their various moods.  The songs all remain identifiably stoner rock but the band finds time to stitch together a crazy quilt of ideas and influences.  The opener is a straight-up high energy blast of stoner rock while "Psychotic Fever" pulls on some more contemplative strings, tinged with blues and booze-fuelled regret.  Something only really hinted at on "The Barbers Snake" is the group's jazz funk gymnastics which speak fluently on "Big Kahuna".

Parasol Caravan
Parasol Caravan's final contribution comes in the form of "Chinese Eyes" which features a world-beating riff that somehow manages to combine elements of Black Sabbath, Tool, Kyuss and Led Zeppelin all in one shot.  The riff and the rough and moody vocals makes the song one of the true standouts of the record.  Not to be forgotten in the mix of course is the drumming of Vincent Böhm, who has his work cut out for him by the aforementioned complex dynamics of each song but simply slices and dices the band's four appearances with complementary and syncopated rhythms.  Never a background figure, Böhm puts on a clinic on his way out the door leaving a distinctive impression, letting the world know that Parasol Caravan is home to a mad scientific and concussive drumming force.

Cachimbo de Paz's side of the record starts off tentatively enough.  Guitarist / vocalist Chu noodles around on the guitar, searching for a riff.  But when the fuzz pedal is depressed and the band finds their groove ... look out.

Cachimbo de Paz was completely off the radar until I received this split in the mail.  The first thing that strikes the listener upon hearing this band's opening statement "Stare Into the Sun" is the devastatingly slow simmering fuzz.  I was never a guitarist so I can't tell you exactly how the effect is achieved, but it sounds like one of the frequency nobs is turned down slightly and the fuzz channel is opened up and allowed to breathe creating a slow pulsing static effect.  The sound is brilliant and heavier than lead mountains.  The next thing that strikes the listener is the distinctive voice of Chu.  It's a deep, low growl, a whiskey-toughened vocal that may bring to mind Tom Waits.  Less raw, but deeper.

"Cachimbo" is the band's shortest number, somewhat of an introduction (even though it comes second) or vision statement.  It's a mostly instrumental number with a single spoken verse in Spanish.

Typically, Chu rumbles and shambles through his vocals but finds the will to explore melody in "Lady" to strong results.  Cachimbo de Paz takes the time to explore the forests of funk first felled by Parasol Caravan on closing track "Coyotes on Peyote".  The music is as demented as the title suggests, feedback whines and speedfreak break beats running around in a panic atop a solid bass groove that underpins and grounds the entire affair, keeping one foot in reality.

Cachimbo de Paz
While both bands on this split hail from the city of Linz in Austria, there's not much to tie their sound together.  Parasol Caravan is a high energy, almost carnival-like brand of heavy funkin' southern groove, Cachimbo de Paz is closer to dark space rock.  Indeed, the very title of the split 'Use The Fuzz' should give listeners somewhat of a clue as to what to expect on this disc with Parasol Caravan dedicating themselves to The Light Side of the Fuzz, while Cachimbo de Paz are the Sith Lords of the affair, given over to The Dark Side of the Fuzz.

'Use the Fuzz' is an excellent showcase for both bands whose distinctive sounds are punctuated further by the presence of the other.

Highlights include: "The Barbers Snake" and "Stare Into The Sun"

Rating: 4/5

Total Run Time: 45:21

From: Linz, Austria

Genre: Stoner, Psychedelic

Reminds me of: The Bad Light, Cube, DSW

Release Date: February 12, 2012

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: Aerial battles with the fate of a galaxy hanging in the balance.

Better Reviews:
Parasol Caravan on Stoner Hive
Cachimbo de Paz on Stoner Hive

Parasol Caravan facebook
Cachimbo de Paz facebook


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