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Montibus Communitas - Ananda Samgha (2014) review

Montibus Communitas "Ananda Samgha"(Sky Lantern Records, 2014)

Sky Lantern Records specializes in recordings that might not necessarily find appreciative homes elsewhere, Sky Lantern embraces the strange, the weird, and the avant-garde sides of music taking chances where others might shy away and my hat’s off to them!  

They were the first to release Kikagaku Moyo’s Mammatus Clouds (Interview here) in a limited cassette run before it’s highly lauded vinyl pressing on the recently relocated Captcha Records.  I’m lucky enough to know Nik Rayne who helps run Sky Lantern and get to check out their releases, and they literally never cease to amaze.  They push the boundaries, even for a veteran rock journalist and music enthusiast of thirty years like myself, challenging my tastes and encouraging me to get into new stuff with nearly every announcement.  Their latest offerings include Montibus Communitas’s Ananda Samgha, a collection of early live recordings of the band in action offered up to the public for the first time.  The percussion heavy, droning sounds of Ananda Samgha are infectious to say the least; they are after all from Peru.  The deranged flute work, teamed with keyboards, twisted guitar, strange guttural barks and some truly unnerving strings combine to create the psychedelic trip inside the altered states of consciousness that is the opening track “Catequil”.  The initial drone of the song lulls the unsuspecting listener into a state of unsuspecting hypnosis before things really start getting hard and heady about ten minutes in.  The drums switch from the primordial hand-percussion that started the song into a much, much heavier full drum-set accompanied by sporadic and fractal electric guitar, both joining in and constructing an ominous brooding tone of mesmerism all it’s own.  The sprawling opening drone of “Catequil” is supplanted finally by the much shorter, and again, much heavier sounds of “Verðandi”.  “Verðandi” brings the guitar in from the beginning, along with much more prominent and primitive vocals, chanting and howling throughout.  The crash of the drums is all that seems to hold the ethereal threads of music which are so perfectly constructed, they sound as though they might derail at any moment, but never quite do.  “Hridaya” is another relatively short track, clocking in at barely over five-minutes.  While earlier tracks definitely showoff the more primitive, Peruvian sound of Montibus Communitas, “Hridaya” definitely highlights their free-jazz chops.  The electric guitar is all that holds the song together, an otherwise untraceable litany of sounds and beats slithering underneath a sonic cathedral of noise.  The drums seem to unhinge their jaws like a snake, devouring the existing rhythm and exhaling something entirely new constantly.  The gaping maw of the final track “Medhā” however, starts off innocuously enough.  These are obviously audience recordings, as you can hear some people talking from time to time.  It’s not distracting to me in the slightest and the only reason I mention it is because it actually adds some life to them in my opinion.  The deadening silence of soundboard taps can be just excruciating to me and having a recording that has some real character and life to it is what’s important; at least for me.  “Medhā” drives that point home, breaking from droning background music, the crowd milling about and talking until about eight-minutes in when the melody has finally overtaken them, the sounds permeating from the stage and into their brain like fumes, intoxicating and entrancing.  “Medhā” allows you to loose yourself in its folds, the incredible vocals ten minutes in transporting you off to another place, the strings and drums overtaking existence once again and leading the mass hypnosis to a deceptively simple conclusion.  The sprawling magnificence of “Medhā” is the most fitting way I could think to end Ananda Samgha echoing and reverberating claps clamoring for space in the tightening echoed wavelengths of sound as they submerge into the blackness of silence and tape hiss.  Limited to only 100 tapes make sure you scoot on over to the Sky Lantern Records’ Bandcamp page and snag yourself a copy, or at least a download, before you’re left kicking yourself!

Review made by Roman Rathert/2015
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