Special Features: Cover of The Groundhogs' "Cherry Red".
- Godspeed a) Ampilified b) Passing c) Trajectory d) Perception e) Cascade
- Sonic Prayer
- Cherry Red (Bonus Track)
Release Date: 2007
Label: Tee Pee Records
It’s difficult to suppress the nostalgia for classic cars, beaded curtains, and smoke-filled rooms conjured by the album art for Rhythms from a Cosmic Sky: wavy, fluid type is set against a galactic backdrop of burning stars scattered throughout the vibrant pinks and muted browns of a limitless deep-space sky. As cliché as the phrase is, it’s true; a picture is a worth a thousand words, and the word is “psychedelic.” Since their founding in 2001, the Californian trio has dedicated itself to mastery of the mind-bending jam session, evoking the spirits of Jimi Hendrix and Sabbath in equal measure. These two influences, among numerous others from the seventies rock/metal canon, formed the foundation for 2005’s Sonic Prayer. From the reckless abandon of the first track’s wild guitar solos to the spiraling, dirge-like riff of the second, Sonic Prayer established itself as an under-the-radar success, priming expectations for the group’s sophomore effort. For those who worship the “almighty riff” and “knob-to-eleven” guitar heroics, look no further – your savior has arrived on a flaming comet.
One of Rhythm’s most impressive accomplishments is how perfectly it walks the razor’s edge between pure improvisation and careful construction, convincing the listener that it is both simultaneously. Track one, Godspeed, begins much the same as the other-worldly sky depicted on the album’s cover with a chaotic swirl of synthesizer, guitar feedback, and rolling cymbals, rising and rising until a dramatic crash into classic riffs and pounding drums. At a purely aural level, it sounds spur-of-the-moment, as if the band “just went with it,” but at a cognitive level there’s a logic to the music that’s so sound it’s difficult to believe its extemporary nature. Sure, this is a jam band, and they are jamming, but Earthless are able to trick you into believing otherwise, and it’s a fascinating trick. By perpetuating the logical freedom established in the opener’s first minutes, both Godspeed and Sonic Prayer remain purposeful throughout their twenty minute running times, shooting into unexpected twists and turns, never failing to find an engaging way out and into the next moment of “*** yeah.” It’s easy to lose yourself in the storm, and nigh impossible to prevent yourself from moving along with it, bobbing your head and tapping your feet throughout the ride. Fascinating songwriting, or “songprovising,” however, isn't Rhythm’s only draw.
Draw number two is guitarist Isaiah Mitchell, a true force of nature. Hurricane, tornado, monsoon, take your pick. His guitar playing throughout Rhythms is, for lack of a better expression, damn impressive; it isn’t just his ability to lay down licks so tasty they belong in a five-star restaurant, and it’s not just his talent for scorching hot pyrotechnics: it’s his ability to effortlessly weave between the two that elevate Mitchell beyond the ordinary. This is heard most obviously from 16:30 onwards in the opening track, Godspeed, in which Mitchell hurtles like a rocket through an asteroid field, barrel-rolling and u-turning amidst the cosmic rubble, forcing you to wonder just how the hell he’s piloting the thing. This isn’t to imply he’s an entirely technical player, because he isn’t. Sometimes, such as at the 4:24 mark on Sonic Prayer, Mitchell opts to lay down a riff that’s just so irresistibly cool you’ll wish you were wearing sunglasses. Even though the axeman is the star of the show here, it would be entirely unfair not to mention drummer Mario Rubalcaba and bassist Mike Eginton, whose powerful performances propel each moment of the record to the next; whether it’s the high energy fills and complex patterns or the snake-like, pulsing bass lines, you’ll often catch yourself thinking some combination of expletive and compliment. Truly, each member of the trio carries his own weight here, and the results are intensely gratifying. - Alex Kugaczewski (SputnikMusic http://www.sputnikmusic.com/review/57674/Earthless-Rhythms-From-a-Cosmic-Sky/)