Brujas del Sol (Witches of the Sun, to you señor), a four-piece from Ohio, have released a series of EP’s, all called “Moonliner”, on Devouter Records over the past year, now lovingly gathered onto this full length album of the same name. Ostensibly a psychedelic rock band, they call to mind many of the great exponents of the wyrde side; Hawkwind, Black Sabbath, Can and The MC5 all spring to mind, but never the less this collection is full of surprises.
Opener ‘Ships in the Distance’ begins with space station blips and squeaks and then quite awesome Krautrock drumming breaks out followed by massive, chiming, echoing guitars. Strangely it immediately brought to mind the “All in the Mind” EP by The Verve , their first, and greatest release (if you’ve never heard it, do, and wonder at the band that MIGHT have been). Anyway, I digress. The song then drops into a dreamy psyche chant, before ramping back up into a fantastic guitar work out. This is the best opening track to an album I’ve heard so far this year, and I’m hooked. The drumming alone is so persistent that you feel you must follow it.
Talking of ‘best’s’, ‘Satanic Surf Girls Love To Dance’ is song title of the year thus far and begins with a couple of dirtier Stooges riffs over Hawkind-style keyboard whooshes and space rock noodling, building to another Krautrock chugger, the soloing guitars slowly getting more and more agitated. It takes a few plays to come out the shadows of it’s predecessor, but it proves to be a favourite over time.
‘Conquistadors’ is a heavy blues, and though less surprising it’s a pleasant enough eight minutes of droney exploration. Now ‘Noon on the Moon’ is epic in every sense of the word. Eleven and a half minutes of eastern-tinged guitar fabulousness. Gothicly dramatic, this is the sound of a band reaching for the stars by any means necessary. I believe Volume 3 of the “Moonliner” EP’s consists of this track and ‘Ships in the Distance’, if you want your mind blown over a shorter period of time, then go for that first!
‘Baba Yaga’ drags us howling through the woods Evil Dead-style, towards her chicken leg hut and then becomes an unexpectedly perky surf rock number. Bonkers! By the end it has reverted to another huge guitar epic, they can’t help themselves, and I’m not complaining. Disappointingly it ends with ‘Castles Upon Golden Gate’, a rather polite, twinkly, Explosions In The Sky-esque number, and pretty forgettable.
This is almost, almost, a great album. The vocals are a tad anemic and actually almost superfluous, and that last track really doesn’t do it for me. Plus it is occasionally just a little to restrained. If they let rip a bit more once in a while this would have been an absolute killer release. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still majestic, but it’s kind of a refined regent rather than mad eyed warrior king.