The second tablet from The Holy Family was cast down unto Earth some time hence, but it is only now I emerge from the ritual with even the most tenuous grasp on what I have witnessed, both with mine eyes and mine ears. Everything you need to know about this record, the writing process for which commenced as soon as the debut album was released back in 2021, is laid out in great detail on the Bandcamp page, so I won’t repeat it here. Instead, what follows is an impressionistic, maybe wayward stab at The Truth hidden in these here scintillating grooves, baby.
You may think I use the word ‘Kosmische’ too much in my occasional witterings, but sorry, it’s just the right one to describe the headspace this wonderful collage of sounds inhabits. Some of the old Guapo uberstompf is intermittently allowed to surface, and sound engineer Antti Uusimaki, who more than merits his own credit, has done a fabulous job of weaving it all together with sparkling dark matter glitterthread.
Opening track Crawling Out is a call to worship, the faithful riding the escalator up into the dark sky as David J. Smith intones his prayer. The lyrics, some of which are based on the ‘Vorrh’ trilogy of fantasy novels by cult British author Brian Catling, are intoned and further treated in a manner to render them indecipherable, a no doubt deliberate ploy, leaving it to our stirred imaginations. By way of brief explanation “the Vorrh is ‘an impenetrable sentient forest, older than mankind, believed to house all knowledge’”. Without a lyric sheet or any links on Bandcamp, I suppose we will just have to take the vocals as another part of the whole. Don’t fret, it’ll be awlright!
The soul of Guapo stirs as the thunderous Bad Travelling rises from the deep, courtesy of Joe Lazarus and Sam Warren locking anvils for five or more minutes. This song is simply jaw-dropping when witnessed live, I can tell you!
What is seen with Chalky’s Eyes is revealed to us as it shapeshifts on Emmett’s keyboards, dancing in the reflected light of distant stars colliding. It’s all very K…. No, I can’t say it again, can I? In amongst a myriad of influences, there is definitely the same questing spirit of Can at play when The Holy Family get into gear. Few bands nowadays can lock into a groove like these boys. The Watcher concludes side one. At 40-minutes, this is the perfect length for an album, and so lends itself to that ultimate aesthetic expression of rock music, the good old LP. The die cut sleeve and lovely artwork, and the luminescent green vinyl, are all drop-dead gawjus! Where was I? Oh yeah… almost Eno-like in its serenity, The Watcher gives us time to catch our breath and prepare ourselves for the main trip.
Before we head off onto chronoglide skyways, we are given impetus for our journey by Hell Born Babel and its ruthless expressionism. Kavus Torabi ekes out a plucked cyclical figure and the percussion and strange electronica create a swirling dervish of musical devildust. The three-part Go Zero Suite is everything this psychedelic juggernaut of a band were meant to be, and more. Building on a by now traditional hypnotic figure, propelled again by Sam and Joe, we take the stairway to the stars and don’t look back for the next 13-minutes or so. Blummin’ marvellous m’dear!
This is one of those albums that distils the very nature of the shamanic chemistry wrought by the players, right there into your living room. As close to perfection as it’s possible to be, one wonders how de fook they will follow that! Or maybe they won’t have to, as I can just see David deciding to take his muse elsewhere for the next trip into sonic wonderland. We shall see…
01. Crawling Out (3:22)
02. Bad Travelling (5:49)
03. Chalky’s Eyes (6:07)
04. The Watcher (6:12)
05. Hell Born Babel (4:51)
06. Go Zero Suite: Pt. I (0:48)
07. Go Zero Suite: Pt. II (10:18)
08. Go Zero Suite: Pt. III (4:16)
Total Time – 41:48
David Jason Smith – Vocals (treated), Drums (some), Percussion, Electronics
Emmett Elvin – Piano & Rhodes
Kavus Torabi – Guitars
Sam Warren – Bass
Joe Lazarus – Drums
Antti Uusimaki – Studio Spellcasting
Record Label: Rocket Recordings
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 21st July 2023