Monday, July 11, 2011

Sagas Between Worlds (Greenup Industries) LP

Sagas is the most recent solo incarnation of Matt McDowell (Dire Wolves, Arco Flute Foundation, etc), and Between Worlds is his debut foray into the vinyl format. So far I've heard a couple of McDowell's tapes under the Sagas name, and everything I've heard by Dire Wolves has delivered the goods via lumbering smokestacks risen up from the most zoned cosmic depths.
Between Worlds is an old school acid rock freakout -- vintage to its core, trancedelic one minute, head charging into the Dead C void the next -- with a few oud-inistic ethnic detours along the way.

The first side features three fresh-from-the-primordial-aether jams. "The Hidden Variable" is a levitated organ/acid guitar soaked chant that wastes no time invoking a sense of otherness and sacred devotion, while "Scrapyard" offers collapsing free jazz deconstruction. The real standout though is "Bad Karma Blues" with melting Blue Cheer acid leads and a rampaging space punk climax. Fans of the most destroyed Komische rawk (Amon Düül II/Ash Ra Tempel included) and PSF Records will eat it up. On the flip, off kilter banjo raga is dispersed with subtle percussion and effects on "Hope Springs Vernal" and "In The Hall of Mandos". The harsh distorted oblivion of "Better Times" invokes the spirit of McDowell's earlier solo guitar rippers (such as the Headlong Into The Fire EP on Mike Tamburo's New American Folk Hero imprint). It's surely a good thing McDowell hasn't abandoned this more abrasive side of his sonic persona, as the resulting contrast only further heightens the drama of what's happening here. This makes plaintive closer "Soon A-Comin" that much more of a sweet come down with solo acoustic in the country blues vein, though the whole record's primitive and homespun every second with McDowell playing all instruments in his home studio. The under water sonar-infused cover art is by Brad Rose of Digitalis Records/The North Sea fame. Between Worlds is the real deal, out of space/time holy psych for those who like to dig deeper and roam off the beaten paths.

* Check out Inez Lightfoot's video for "Bad Karma Boogie" here.

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