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30 May 2017

Samsara Blues Experiment “One With The Universe” 2017 Germany Psych Stoner Rock





Samsara Blues Experiment  “One With The Universe”  2017 Germany  Psych Stoner Rock
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With the release of their ambitiously-titled fourth album, One with the Universe, Berlin-based heavy psych rockers Samsara Blues Experiment provide the keystone of a resurgence that began late last year with a return to playing shows. Their last outing was 2013’s Waiting for the Flood (review here), and it was the most vivid realization to-date of their blend of progressive rock and psychedelic jamming, while continuing the momentum they’d built throughout their prior outings, 2011’s Revelation and Mystery (review here) and 2009’s Long Distance Trip (review here) debut, and with that behind them, it was easy to expect them to roll forward as they had for the half-decade since their demo (review here) surfaced in 2008. They didn’t.

By 2015, what had been a four-piece parted ways with bassist Richard Behrens (now of Heat), and after an increasing profile of tours and festival appearances, shows pretty much stopped as guitarist/vocalist Christian Peters embarked on a succession of solo outings exploring textures of synth and classic krautrock influences. In hindsight, the break makes some sense, particularly given the work Peters did in the interim, and really it hasn’t been egregiously long since the last Samsara Blues Experiment came out — four years isn’t eight, mathematically speaking — but as a fan of the band’s work, it’s hard to note the arrival of One with the Universe via Peters‘ own Electric Magic Records imprint with anything other than a sense of relief. Even before one digs into the five-track/43-minute outing rife with winding instrumental explorations, Eastern-minded inflections of theme and arrangement, and an overarching sense of celebration resonant from driving opener “Vipassana” (premiered here) through the swinging, pushing-outward finale of “Eastern Sun and Western Moon,” it’s awfully good to have Samsara Blues Experiment active again.

That’s about the least impartial statement one could make about the record beyond “duh, I like it,” so maybe take this review with the appropriate grain of salt, but the truth is that from their beginnings in the post-Colour Haze sphere of warm-toned heavy psych, Samsara Blues Experiment — now Peters, drummer Thomas Vedder and bassist Hans Eiselt — have become one of Europe’s leading underground presences in terms of the individualism they bring to their approach. One can hear it as rolling waves lead the way into “Vipassana,” a track that takes its name from the Buddhist concept of insight into reality’s true nature, Vedder‘s drums providing the transition into a progression marked by what ends up as an instrumental theme throughout: the use of keys and synth alongside the guitar, bass and drums.

With a recording job by ex-member Behrens and a wide-sounding mix that allows for shifts in volume and tone in “Vipassana” as much as for flourish of sitar on the centerpiece “Glorious Daze” and the bouncing ’70s organ work on the 15-minute penultimate title-track, Samsara Blues Experiment sound free to explore these spaces and well beyond, such that the earlier “Sad Guru Returns” — instrumental save for some samples at the beginning and end — and the trade between the push and crash of its hook and the sense of jammy-but-purposeful meandering in “Vipassana” set an immersive vibe more interactive than it is hypnotic.

That is to say, as “Glorious Daze” comes on to chill out the end of side A — not that it doesn’t build to its own crescendo around the aforementioned sitar and keys, because it most definitely does — One with the Universe sounds less about trying to draw listeners into an unconscious state than encouraging them to actively engage with what they’re hearing. Maybe “get up and dance” would be a too-strong interpretation, but at very least, Samsara Blues Experiment are asking those hearing these songs to remain present in the moment with them, whether that’s expressed through the thrust of “Vipassana,” the drift into swirl of “Sad Guru Returns” or the move from serenity to serenity in “Glorious Daze.”
Of course, one can still get plenty lost in One with the Universe if so desired, and that’s especially true of the title-track. Starting out with a somewhat foreboding keyboard movement from Peters and bassline from Eiselt, the extended stretch is immediate in signaling its own patience and adjusting the expectation of the listener accordingly. Thus far, Samsara Blues Experiment have been fairly energetic in their delivery and they’ll be again as they move through this and “Eastern Sun and Western Moon” still to come, but the opening minutes of “One with the Universe” itself are given over to a languid unfolding that eases through the first half so subtly and fluidly that by the time vocals show up amid all the synth swirl, double-timed hi-hat, spacious guitar strum that turns to starts and stops, they’re more than nine minutes deep and one has all but stopped anticipating their arrival.

From that point on, the trio hit into a boogie-fied section that feels written for the stage and is the most prevalent example of the album’s celebratory mood — the lines, “Hey hey, want to be with you every day/Hey hey, think of all the promises we made,” defining the good-times atmosphere Samsara Blues Experiment are inhabiting in the back half of the song. Peters moves to layer keys and guitar (and vocals) as a verse takes hold, and a joyous, righteous jam ensues that’s as much fun to hear as it is an expression of the organic power trio construction between him, Vedder and Eiselt, vocals locking in note for note on a quick guitar lead before the song moves into its next verse playing off the “Hey hey, want to be with you every day/Hey hey, think of all the groovy times we’ve had,” lyrical foundation with added percussion behind.

They’re in full swing at this point, and at 14 minutes flat, they align to push “One with the Universe” to its conclusion, Vedder‘s crash becoming a wash in the process. That would seem to leave “Eastern Sun and Western Moon” as something of an epilogue, but in its lyrical theme and seven-minute linear build, it proves essential in tying One with the Universe together from start to finish, finding a place for itself between the thrust of “Vipassana” and the patience of the title-cut, bringing back the interplay of organ and guitar, and offering listeners a last chance to travel along with the band as they make their way toward a late-arriving peak in the song’s second half and close out the record with a bit of residual hum — sound waves rather than the ocean waves that started out the opener, but still undulating.

In addition to signaling their return after this four-year stretch, One with the Universe also marks a decade since Samsara Blues Experiment first got together in 2007. If one looks at the scope of what they’ve been able to accomplish over their tenure, the context in which this new collection arises is even broader and all the more worthy of appreciation. It’s been a significant creative journey up to this point, and whatever their future might hold in terms of releases, touring, etc., their fourth full-length confirms that no matter what might change for them or how their aesthetic might shift in the process of their continued becoming, their commitment to growth is unwavering and a crucial, defining aspect of who they are as a unit. Yet one more reason to be glad to have them back.................

Στην πρώτη τους full length δουλειά ως τρίο πλέον, οι Γερμανοί heavy psych rockers όχι μόνο καταφέρνουν να καλύψουν το εκ πρώτης όψης δυσαναπλήρωτο κενό του μπασίστα Richard Behrens, αλλά κυκλοφορούν και τον πιο μεστό δίσκο της καριέρας τους. Το «One With The Universe» έχει όλα τα στοιχεία που μας έκαναν να αγαπήσουμε τους SBE, με τα psych jams, τις ανατολίτικες μελωδίες (με το σιτάρ να χρωματίζει τις συνθέσεις εκεί που πρέπει χωρίς να γίνεται κατάχρησή του) και τα ψυχεδελικά ορχηστρικά μέρη να δίνουν και να παίρνουν. Το «Vipassana» είναι συναυλιακό must και το «Glorious Days» είναι ένας psych οργασμός, όμως αυτό που είναι πλέον φανερό δια γυμνού οφθαλμού στη μουσική των Samsara είναι οι progressive rock επιρροές. Και μπορεί οι Pink Floyd να αποτελούσαν ανέκαθεν σημείο αναφοράς των Γερμανών, όμως στο «One With The Universe» θα βρείτε πολλές ακόμα αναφορές στο προοδευτικό rock των 70s, κάτι που με έκανε να αγαπήσω περισσότερο το εν λόγω album. 4 χρόνια ήταν πολλά και οι Samsara με το νέο τους κομψοτέχνημα μας απέδειξαν πόσο πολύ μας είχαν λείψει τα προηγούμενα χρόνια........BY ΝΙΚΟΛΑΣ ΤΟΛΙΚΑΣI...........

I thought it would only be appropriate that when discussing a band self-described as heady psych, or stoner rock for the rest of us, that I’d do it on the most sacred of heady holidays, 4/20. The bowls are loaded and the music is loud, there really is no better way to be on a beautiful day like today. At first glance I was honestly worried that Samsara Blues Experiment might be too light for my personal tastes, just preferring more of the heavier, drony type shit like Sleep or Bongripper for my stoner jams. But I’m not one to pass judgement too quickly, so after a good listen I think we have some something here.

The ‘One With The Universe’ is only five tracks, but all five clear at least six minutes with the longest going up to fifteen. I love nothing more than getting baked into a pot-and-taco pie and melting into the couch while listening to a half hour-long Gorguts track, but who always has that kind of free time? I think it would be dope to spend over an hour listening to Dopesmoker smoking dope, but I have to do adult things; like smoke dope and write this article. I will concede one point to these bands putting out the insanely long tracks however; I do think it is incredibly impressive when you can perform said tracks live. Even five minutes is a lot of music to come up with then remember much less fifteen minutes of it for just a single track. So I’m going to light another joint and get into this record for you guys.

The record starts off “Vipassana”, breaking out a chill surfer jam vibe. Out of nowhere comes a sitar and things get super spacey and psychedelic before dying back down into a calmer state. The chorus has a nice powerful presence to it that really drives the song along. At another point the sitar makes a reappearance and I feel like it won’t be the last we hear of it. Turns out the chorus, verse, and sitar bit just kinda loop for about ten minutes with a few minor variations in between.
The tracks are really well produced, which makes listening that much more enjoyable. Everything is clean and there is no audio dissonance where there shouldn’t be. I always love when the bass has a defined presence as well, I think it adds a lot of character to the music. The guitar playing is incredibly dynamic with great utilization of effects for building atmosphere. Vocals are pretty scarce, but when they do come around, they’re well done. Not too hot, not too cold, but just right.

“Glorious Daze” starts off mellow and easy; reminded me of an intro to a western movie for some reason, directed by Quentin Tarantino of course. It has a slow buildup, but eventually gets going into a harder rock sound with a nice groove. Over all it is a very easy song to listen to. At this point I think you can guess how the last track “Eastern Sun & Western Moon” is going to start. It’s honestly super strange to me to be reviewing music this mellow after doing nothing but the craziest, most ridiculous shit for years now. I’m used to music I can burn a church down to, something that makes me want to stuff my annoying neighbor in a meat grinder, music that moves you at a deep, visceral level. The reason I mention this is because I’m really glad this came across my desk. It made me aware of a lighter, more ethereal space of music I was previously aware of, but honestly did not particularly care for. It is a refreshing change of perspective and sound.

All in all I think ‘One With The Universe’ is a dope record made by some dope dudes. It’s a great record to throw on when you want to relax with some friends while smoking some jays. The album is very much psychedelic rock meets stoner rock, wrapped up nice and neatly. I was mellowed out almost too aggressively for my liking, which sounds like an oxymoron unless you’ve ever smoked copious amounts of the sticky icky before. So for more casual stoner rock folk, this album would be right up your alley. It’s time to go back to celebrating. Happy holidays you filthy animals.

Tracklist
A1 Vipassana
A2 Sad Guru Returns
A3 Glorious Daze
B1 One With The Universe
B2 Eastern Sun & Western Moon

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