Newcastle has been a veritable hub for a wide spectrum of psych and noise, from the raw trio of Blóm to the relentless clamour of Pigs x7; the same city’s Smote offers a different, but similarly singular, vision of psych.
The album centres around – and draws upon the greatest exponents of – repetition: revelling in Sweden’s greatest cyclical conjurers and the malevolent alchemy of Sunburned Hand of the Men equally. Smote also marks their own firebrand form of repetition with traces of NEU! and a sinuous, Swans (circa 2012) style unravelling – as on the epic opener – that swiftly entombs the listener in it’s ever-shfting psych chasm. Said opener, through the surreptitious woodland ephemera and the overwhelming churn of monotony-leaning instrumentation, builds a panoramic, Tolkien-esque musical environment sustained consistently – though subtly – throughout.
An abundance of Fripp-y flourishes on ‘Drommon Pt.1’ and ‘Hauberk’ bleed effortlessly into the krautrock, space-y organ skyline and hammering percussion of ‘Poleyn’, demonstrating the apparent ease with which Smote combine elements throughout the album, without stepping beyond the realms of palatability.
The flute on ‘Hauberk’ – which takes the listener to unexpected and intriguing sonic locales – and the caustic, percussive mantra (the absolute peak of the album’s aural thrall) that epitomises the rhythmic allure of ‘Poleyn’ comprise Drommon’s most unforgettable moments. However, the two tracks also provide a further, deeper benefit throughout the listen: a profound yearning for Smote’s lengthy sprawls; the stages where their might is fully revealed.
In fact, the piston-like march ‘Poleyn’ exerts is then exacerbated by the pounding, slow heaviness of ‘Drommon Pt.2’; while the behemoth also brings cathartic finality to the journey sparked in the earlier part, as spindly guitar notes buoy it’s mutating broth.
A deliriously absorbing psych odyssey, side effects of Smote’s ‘Drommon’ may include bowing to it’s ancient (yet simultaneously contemporary), omnipotent sound, such is it’s totemic potency.
Drommon is out on Rocket Recordings October 1st. Pre-order here.