Say Psych: Album Review: Sherpa The Tiger – Great Vowel Shift

Sherpa The Tiger are a brand-new band hailing from the borderlands of Lviv, Ukraine. With an arsenal of decrepit Soviet synthesisers, the four-piece combine a love of minimalist ambient music and the kosmische grooves that came pumping out of Eastern Europe in the 60s/70s. There are two sides to Sherpa The Tiger, there are the dancy groove-ridden cuts that channel the funkier repetitions of CAN and then there are the more stripped-back moments, which see cosmic, ambient deconstructions.

Talking of their influences on Great Vowel shift, Andrii explains: “The whole project was inspired mostly by the Eastern European Krautrock stage of the late 1960s and 1970s but we also tried to refresh those old-school ideas with a more modern electronic/ambient approach – with a bit of a psychedelic pop vibe too. The main idea was to create a sound which can be hypnotic, endless and danceable all at the same time.”

Their synth-driven soundscapes are a thing of beauty and elegance, the band credit this to just two pieces of hardware which in total cost no more than $120: “The backbone of this album’s sound, in addition to the ordinary live drums, bass & guitars is this vintage Soviet synthesizer called an ‘Elektronika EM-25’ from the 1980’s and electric organ ‘Vermona Formation 2’, which was made in the late 1970’s/early 1980’s in GDR (East Germany). The sounds of these two instruments you can hear in every track of the album except ‘Golden Ratio’”, explains Andrii.

Sherpa The Tiger was originally conceived by long-time friends Artem Bemba (bass/guitar/keys) and Andrii Davydenk (keys/programming). The pair lived together in an apartment in Lviv before deciding to start making music to give themselves something to do when stuck inside. Andrii explains: “The band was started as a home-studio project between me and Artem. After the actual song-writing and pre-production, we invited our friends from university Yurji Khomik [drums] and Mykhailo Kanafotskyi [guitar] to come and help us recreate the songs in the studio and play all the stuff live.”

The five track offering released on Fuzz Club Records opens with ‘Peninsula’, a funky number which channels Neu bass grooves amongst tripped out guitar riffs and synth accompaniments. It’s a foot tapper from the offset, building in slow repetition as all the great kraut rock tracks are prone to do. ‘Periscope’ continues in this vain, but shifts the emphasis to the captivating guitar riff which is straight from the early Can records. ‘Golden Ratio’ shows the other side to them, with a stripped back approach reminiscent in part of Jean Michel Jarre’s opus’ which gained worldwide acclaim for their ethereal beauty. ‘Contre-Jour’ offers a dangerously catchy motoric beat that takes a bite and won’t let go before concluding ‘Cavalcade’ which starts with twinkling synth noise before moving to a throbbing bassline and intriguing industrial noise overlaid with yet another mesmeric guitar riff.

Sherpa The Tiger were undoubtedly an unknown before they piqued Fuzz Club’s interest, but this release is bound to set them firmly on the tongues of the psychedelic faithful who enjoy something a little different.


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