Through no small obsession with Riding Easy Records‘ Brown Acid compilations over the years I’ve developed a taste for psychedelic rock beyond my usual heavy psych inclinations. Records by groups like Holy Serpent and Red Mountains have expanded my interest into softer, more stoned, and even happier tonal spaces that offer some small personal respite from the oppressive, angular inclinations of extreme metal. Without a big nutsac full of fuzzy guitar riffs flapping against my face I’ve found that I’m far more in tune with vocalists who have a grasp of phrasal rhythmics and not flourishes. One of the greater strength’s of Danish psych-rock band Red Lama‘s discography thus far is both joyously stoned rhythm and an almost Morrison-esque controlled vocal resonance, felt notably on the collective’s 2016 debut full-length ‘Dreams Are Free’.
Their latest full-length ‘Motions’ is more actively rhythmic yet reaches for a ‘futuristic chill’ rather than ever dipping too referentially back into the 60’s or 70’s for their core sound. This is immediately evident in the single “Awakening”, an opium den slither lead by a strong bassline and additional input from modernist-folk artist Bjonko, a well known producer and composer in Denmark, who lends a retro-futurist sound to the track. The strength of ‘Motions’ comes from the tracks where Red Lama ventures away from their established low-key psych rock sound and experiments with different bass tones and song structures. “Come What May” offers an exceptional step away from the encouraging, positive-rock of the two songs before it as elements of world music and subtlety scraped electronic elements gild it’s verses.
In many ways ‘Motions’ is a vacation, a brightly themed response to oppressive darkness that never dances it’s optimism too far from realism. What might initially seem like a precious soul-lifting rock record actually holds a careful sense of empathy throughout and won’t ever drill you with saccharine banality. For all of it’s shimmering on the A-side ‘Motions’ grows more serious and personal as it concludes and this is perhaps the most interesting side of the record upon repeated listens. “Waves” actually ends up being one of the best tracks here though it features little more than piano relief and some psychedelic guitar shapes. The track’s lead into the two part “Elements” is my favorite moment on the record and “Elements II” is one of the more satisfying conclusions to a rock album I’ve heard this year.
Red Lama have done a beautiful job of modernizing their worldly vision of neo-psych rock on ‘Motions’ and their clever post-punkish spirit shines through just slightly enough to make for a spirited listen that isn’t too stoned to plead its equally positive and personal message. “Awakening” and “Have a Great Today” are clear singles but for my taste the must listen tracks include: “Post Optimism”, “Waves” and “Elements II”.
|Released||February 23, 2018|
|BUY/LISTEN on their Bandcamp!||Follow Red Lama on Facebook|
Psychedelic Rock, Neo-Psychedelia,
On my way to you. 4.0/5.0
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