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Cobracalia - Cobracalia (2014) review

Cobracalia “Cobracalia” (SlowBurn Records, 2014)

Born from the ashes of Arizona’s legendary freak folk psychedelicists Black Sun Ensemble, Cobracalia (named after a track from BSE’s debut album) reunites several BSE members with friends and extended family musicians for this debut. Moving beyond the ruminative, navel-gazing instrumentals BSE was famous for (although the atmospheric, keyboard-driven ‘Total Internal Reflection’ and ‘Lotus’ are here to remind us), Cobracalia is into a more percussive-heavy, drum-circle vibe (half the eight musicians are credited with various forms of percussion, including dumbek, congas, djembe, zills, and various acoustic and electronic percussives courtesy multi-instrumentalist Scott Kerr).
               BSE’s Eastern-leaning sensibilities are still felt in opener ‘Dandyloin’, which sounds like something you might hear filling the air at a Moroccan souk, while the swirling, Middle Eastern-flavoured ‘Arabic Satori’ reworks the BSE classic, originally released on Starlight (Camera Obscura, 2003). Dance (particularly belly dancing) is a key component of much of Cobracalia’s musical palette, with Fonda Insley’s belly dancing ensemble often accompanying live performances, so you certainly won’t be shortchanged when it comes to the tribal, almost hallucinatory rhythmic pulse that permeates the album. And Eric Johnson (not the Texas guitarist) and Michael Henderson add the occasional inflammatory guitar workouts to keep Cobracalia’s toes in the more traditional Western rock idiom.
               Elsewhere, we have flautist Joe Furno’s funky, butt-shaking ‘Wrong Again’ (one of the album’s few vocal tracks), Jillian LaCroix-Martin’s sinewy violin serpentining through ‘Queen of The Night’ and the transcendental closer ‘Gas Giant’, and Eric Johnson’s ‘Tijuana Mama’, a fitting and lovingly-executed tribute to BSE’s late leader/guitarist Jesus Acedo, who died last March. Johnson captures Acedo’s fluid guitar lines (worthy of a Santana or Satriani) without falling into copycat, fan boy adoration. A fitting tribute to, and expansion of the exotic, dreamy, other-worldly musical soundscapes engineered by Black Sun Ensemble, Cobracalia [the band] is an exciting project in its own right and Cobracalia [the album] is certainly worthy of your attention, earning a respectable position next to your BSE albums in your personal psychedelic music library.

Review made by Jeff Penczak/2014
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