- Staggered in Lies
- Glowing Grey
- Slipping From the Day
- Sittin' Around in a Restless Dream
- Ancient Seas and Majesties
- Sacri Monte
Release Date: December 30, 2015
Label: Tee Pee Records
SoCal five-piece Sacri Monti traffic in liquefied kosmiche bliss. The natural word to follow that is “exclusively,” but that’s not quite true in this case, as it would indicate a single-mindedness that neither they nor their self-titled six-track/43-minute Tee Pee Records full-length debut actually possess, the album instead working in a natural-flowing, bright toned spectrum of guitar-driven, organ-laced classic heavy psych, six-stringers Brenden Dellar (also vocals) and Dylan Donavon, Evan Wenskay (organ, synth, Echoplex), bassist Anthony Meier (also of Radio Moscow) and drummer Thomas Dibenedetto (also of JOY) touching on progressive ideas and methods without going full-on krautrock noodle or losing their sense of groove, which remains paramount through the initial shuffle of “Staggered in Lies” and the harder-hitting swing of “Glowing Grey” in the 14-minute one-two punch that leads off.
The established track record of their rhythm section should speak for itself, but it’s worth pointing out that as is the case in the best of heavy psych scenarios, it’s the drums and the bass anchoring the bulk of this material, the especially memorable “Slipping from the Day” seeming that much dreamier because of the solid foundation from which it spreads itself out. Dellar, Donavon and Wenskay enact an immersive swirl on “Staggered in Lies” and vibe remains prevalent throughout the cuts that follow, Sacri Monti‘s Sacri Monti kaleidoscoping through a wash of fuzzy distortion that seems to revel in the chaos of its own making.
Improv seems to play pretty heavily into the band’s methodology, so it’s not really such a surprise that “Slipping from the Day,” “Glowing Grey” and “Sitting around in a Restless Dream” would differ from the versions included on Sacri Monti‘s Demo 2014, released on tape by Under the Gun Records. “Slipping from the Day,” formerly a 12-minute jam, is here trimmed down to six and a half, and it proves a highlight toward the middle of the record, soaked in wah and centered around the repeated line, “Hold on, you’re really slipping from the day,” and variations thereupon. The psychedelic fervor Sacri Monti conjure isn’t to be understated, and it really is an album-long vibe, but far from monochromatic, “Sitting around in a Restless Dream” takes ’70s biker riffing and launches it into a stratosphere of swirling boogie, Dellar‘s voice echoing out as Wenskay seems to manipulate the Echoplex for further looped intricacy — just in case things weren’t freaked out enough.
At just over five minutes, “Sitting around in a Restless Dream” is the shortest of the six cuts, but it packs plenty of space into that time and one has the feeling that on any given night Sacri Monti happen to play it, it might range much further. The subsequent “Ancient Seas and Majesties” brings a turn that pushes the guitar forward, finding a middle ground between the otherworldly mastery of “Slipping from the Day” and the earthier “Staggered in Lies,” the organ seeming to follow the vocals as much as it sets matches step with the bass and drums and adds to the melody proffered by the guitar. In short, it’s everywhere, and it works much to the advantage of the song and the album as a whole.
If you thought by the time you got there that Sacri Monti had no more tricks up their collective sleeve, the languid, bluesy initialization of “Sacri Monti” serves as a swift correction, unfolding gracefully over the course of its first two-plus minutes with a building wave of keys and guitars, the latter introducing the next movement’s riff at 2:40 into the total 12-minute run. It’s mostly instrumental, which is fitting since the band have toyed with structures throughout, but when the vocals do arrive in the second half of the song one can’t help but be reminded of some of Hypnos 69‘s proggy triumphs, and Sacri Monti seem to be working form a similar base of influences in their finale.
As the song comes to its head — hypnosis long since enacted on the listener — and spends its last minute or so wrapping up, one can’t help but hope that the fivesome continue to explore that side of their sound, and begin to mold energy as readily as they do volume, resulting in a shift of atmospherics no less molten than the overarching affect of their debut. As it stands, Sacri Monti is an exciting opening salvo from an act whose promise feels written into each of its jams, and whose balance between songcraft and improvisation serves as an immediately distinguishing factor amid an increasingly crowded Southern Californian heavy psych scene.
The way their songs play out here, they’d almost have a harder time not sounding like themselves, since so much of what they do is based around the forming chemistry of their lineup that one hopes will continue to grow the more time they spend on stage. How much that will happen owing to members’ obligations elsewhere, I don’t know, but if Sacri Monti‘s debut is an alert to the lysergic converted of a pursuit under way, it’s one that well earns any and all attention paid. - The Obelisk (http://theobelisk.net/obelisk/2015/07/20/sacri-monti-sacri-monti-review-and-stream/)