Mater Dronic “Mundo Espectro” (Discos Juana, 2013)
Exquisitely packaged, limited edition (200) double-vinyl reissue of the debut psych monster from these Spanish phenoms, boasting the incredible mind-melting guitar pyrotechnics of Jose Carlos Sisto. Across four sides (including two side-long masterpieces) and 80 jaw-dropping minutes, this power trio delivers a veritable smorgasbord of psychedelic listening pleasures, from dreamy, acoustic interludes to full-frontal brain-frying assaults. The table is set with the disorienting “Angeles De Opio” [Opium Angels], which begins with a violin opening that sounds like you’ve got a mispressing and ended up with a excerpt from a classical string concerto until… Whoa! That violin morphs into explosive string-bending of another type as Sisto wrestles control of the track and turns it into a rather catchy pop psych treat.
The mindwarping home recordings of psych maestro Nick (Bevis Frond) Saloman are among several signposts for what unfolds across the rest of the album. Sisto ups the distortion ante throughout “De Todo Y Nada Y Mientras”, which ends in a blaze of fire-breathing guitar pyrotechnics. “Mascaras De Cielo” [Masks of Heaven] settles down for a soothing acoustic respite, with Sisto’s gently strummed guitar weaving effortlessly around warm female vocals. Imagine Ennio Morricone’s muse, Edda Dell’Orso visiting a Black Sun Ensemble recording session to accentuate the late, great Jesus Acedo’s ostrich-plummaged guitar accompaniment and you’re halfway there.
The first of two side-long monsters, “Sin Fin” [Endless, and at 19½ minutes, it surely is!] opens delicately, as Sisto whispers his lyrics above a tender ruminative guitar backing which closely approximates angelic harps being tenderly plucked in heaven. But, hark, something ominous this way comes. Synths burst into electric currents of buzzing flies, a piano tinkles recklessly in a nearby room, and Sisto stalks into the room behind Cater Jones Strand’s frantic, falling-down-the-stairs drumming which threatens to jump out of your speakers and grab you by the throat and drag you down with it. The heart quickens as the pace builds to a no-holds-barred conflagration of epic proportions and the race is on to discover which soul-cleansing roar will succumb first – Sisto’s throat-shredding screeching or his finger-bleeding guitar destruction bordering on the orgiastic fretwork of Japanese guitar gods Haino Keiji and Kawabata Makoto.
The second album opens with another melancholic floater, the suitably-titled “Amor Glacial”, which helps restore our bearings following the previous brain-frying assault. The contemplative mood continues on the eerie “Como Extrano”, whose arpeggioed guitar echo recalls The Bevis Frond’s “Song For The Sky” until Sisto’s fingers do the talking and turn his guitar into a six-string flamethrower.
A soft flamenco-styled guitar intro announces the 20-minute side-long closer, “Sanctus Mantra” and this is sacred guitar music indeed. Sisto and Co. pull out all the stops enroute to sonic nirvana, as Hendrixian improvisations scream out of Sisto’s guitar, pinning the listener to the wall as blood trickles from various orifices and ecstasy is achieved. About halfway through, the song comes to a complete halt – a minute-plus respite of auditory silence that allows us time to gather our senses and prepare for the song to return as if a marching band were approaching form around the corner. But once they arrive, it’s everybody for themselves, as violins soar above Sisto’s chanting vocals – and the sacred mantra of Mater Dronic permeates our psyche for an aural experience that will not soon be forgotten. Act fast to own a piece of history and grab this collector’s item before they’re all gone.
Review made by Jeff Penczak/2013
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