Heroin in Tahiti – Remoria (Soave Records, 2017)
Fade in. The echoes of a jaw harp cloak you in a deep apparitional enigma. Shakers and sporadic percussion induce a prodding momentum. In the periphery, high pitched squeals float and turn in on themselves. You feel yourself diving down, perhaps into a hallucination, perhaps into your own hysteria. The drumming subsides into a sea of cicada-like shakers and glistening bells. And then a pound, an omen. You do not belong here. This is not your territory.
This esoteric disorientation comes from the opening track to Heroin in Tahiti’s latest release, Remoria. Self-described as Italian occult psychedelia, the Rome-based duo tends toward the ambient, progressive rock, ocean grunge way of things.
According to the release’s Bandcamp page, the album seeks to explore a parallel universe in which Rome has been replaced by the fictional citadel of Remoria. This reconfiguration of history comes from rewriting the ancient Roman myth of Remus facing off against his brother, Romulus. In this universe, Remus is the one to emerge the victor and found the monumental empire.
And I can’t say that they don’t hit their mark. The droning, almost tribal seething does not waver. The chaotic screams of stringed instruments twirl into the ether as war drums pummel any remnants of the enemy to a pulp. By track ‘V,’ as each of the songs are ironically given a sequential Roman numeral, the energy becomes infused with the faint calls of what I can only assume are nymphs, sprites, and sirens.
While a close listen of the first six tracks will reveal a wonderfully brooding web of delay, vibrato, and other effects, it’s hard to distinguish simulation from the real thing. It’s easy to picture a galore of horn sections, animal skin drums, an army of rattlers, and a choir of wailing soldiers.
However, knowing the variety the duo has included in past releases, it’s hard to fall for this record like I have their others. Having almost the entirety of the album as a swirling mass of instrumental battle cries creates a certain aimlessness—their thought experiment of a parallel universe seemingly without any conclusion. While it may incite a spirited rush in the listener, perhaps with a longing to ride into battle alongside your fellow Remorians, the tribalism here seems a somewhat one dimensional appeal.
But a new authority takes command in ‘VII,’ the last track. A synth begins spewing out a throbbing phantasmagorical chord progression. The tonality is warm, easily graspable, even climactic. After a stream of rhythmic arcana, we arrive somewhere new. Perhaps we’ve lasted through the antiquity and surfaced upon modern times within this parallel universe. Perhaps we’ve simply arrived at the now glimmering gates of the new empire. The mood is reassuring, alluding to a culmination, be it historical, mythical, or both.
- Gabe Kahan
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