My Sleeping Karma – Satya – 4.5/5
Most comfortably fitting under the ‘stoner’ genre tag, it doesn’t quite fit; instead, for me, this is what stoner should sound like. Far removed from the ‘harsh’ sounds of many contemporaries, rather than feel as though it were composed by stoned musicians, it feels carefully orchestrated instead to make the listener feel its effects through the music. This is the stoner equivalent of ‘easy listening;’ the buddhist inspiration coming through loud and clear allowing you drift off into a psychedelic sleep, almost entirely void of anything but smooth grooves; this is music that lets you simply lie back and let it wash over you as you drift off to sleep, but not because its bad or uninteresting, rather because of such a calming and relaxing atmosphere they manage to create.
But perhaps what’s more impressive about this outfit is much like how ambient operates, as well as readily drifting into the background it holds up to intent listening just as readily; despite the overt ‘smooth’ tone to the proceedings, that isn’t produced through minimalism. The guitars are critical to this; the wonderfully thick bass gently performing a riff that merges into the back, creating this thick – almost sludgy – framework, ensnaring the rest of the instrumentation within its clutches. With a dry reverb and with plenty of tremolo, the guitar releases a variety of twangy 70s psychedelia upon the listener, all the time backed up by the thin space-like keyboards, hypnotically mesmerizing as they meander and shift, all the time weaving in and amongst each other, never becoming too alien from what came before but never quite capable of staying in the same place either.
But more thought has gone into this than the comparatively simple matter of writing the complementing guitar riffs; the composition of the tracks themselves have been carefully orchestrated to allow for a slow build up, the drums central in the manner the piece slowly increases in tension until the crescendo, and the resultant overbearing sense of weight, the depressive pressure of life grinding you down. Every drum beat seemingly a fraction of a second slow, struggling to slog through as best as they can, and all this reaches a peak with the only track with vocals (‘Svaatnaya’) deep, delicate and mournful, she floats across in powerful yet ethereal manner. The Zen Buddhist tone coming across thick, the notion of karma the belief clung to in order to pick yourself up and survive, even making use of short interludes between tracks to ‘refresh the musical palette.’
I can’t name another piece of music quite like this; an almost ambient or chillout inspired collaboration between ‘Sleep’ and ‘Hawkwind,’ easy to drift off to and yet emotionally thick; epic in tone and yet feeling so marvelously simple. This technically fits the genre of psychedelic stoner rock, but it’s without the bombast, the focus on hooks and catchy passages, the fuzzy echoing smooth grooves all too happily taking precedence and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Highlights: Ahimsa, Satya, Svaatanya