“The bell at the beginning of this album seems to tell us that we are entering some sort of sacred space, and certainly the processive drone of the first track, Pharmakon, sounds to me like it could be set in a Buddhist monastery. Although the title of the track would suggest otherwise, it is, like the rest of this 57 minute album, a beautiful and etherial experience that one will want to sit and listen to rather than have as background to something else. It is ambient in the sense of being calming, but certainly not passive. Indeed, the press release for the album describes it as being ‘ghostly’, and while I would not disagree with this I would say that while this word describes a presence, it also suggests that something is absent; not how I would describe the music on this album. It is very meditative in a way that holds your attention.”
This is how I began my review of ‘Lupus’, and is a fairly accurate way of how I now remember first hearing the album, itself my first experience of Dead Sea Apes music. I had seen the band live supporting The Lumerians in Sheffield a year earlier, and had been intrigued by them then; but Lupus was a significant moment for me and, at the time, a fitting way to begin to experience their music.
What I hadn’t realised, until very recently, was that Dead Sea Apes first released music in 2010, in the guise of the ‘Soy Dios’ single; comprising the first three tracks found on this, their latest release. Switch, then, to the last time I saw the band live in a wonderful co-operative art space in Belper, Derbyshire. Choosing to listen to this album on the way down I found myself heading down the motorway gradually becoming more and more mesmerised by the music as the lights seemed to get longer and longer…like going into some hyperdrive…before finding myself, during Soy Dios III, on some sort of four lane astral plane blacktop….totally lost in the moment…forget der Autobahn this was der Kosmischebahn.
Listening to Soy Dios with the benefit of hindsight, six years after its original release, it begins like some ur-Dead Sea Apes sound. All the elements are there from the moment that the guitar transudes into the track as if summoned from another dimension. And there it is; somehow complete…a fully formed sound from a band just starting out, not a formula but a template upon which the band have continued to build, warp and transcend over their ensuing albums. This then is how I see side one of this release. That moment when everything coalesces a couple of minutes into track I is just perfect.
On side 2 the aforementioned Soy Dios III is one of those tracks which seems so simple but is somehow so loaded with meaning, a basic single drone with minimalist deviations away from it, while the new track, Soy Dios IV, seems to continue with that atmosphere while at the same time picking up the themes of Soy Dios I and II.
This, put simply, is a beautiful album. It is calm and meditative, thought provoking and intense; I imagine it is whatever you want it to be and I am pleased that it has once again seen the light of day.
‘Soy Dios’ is still available on download, vinyl (Cardinal Fuzz release but sold out there), and cassette (a Sky Lantern Records release) on the Dead Sea Apes bandcamp. North American listeners can get both vinyl and cassette from Sky Lantern here.
You can find my other writing for Backseat Mafia here.