With a name like The Rising Sun Experience, with it’s tipping of the hat to Jimi Hendrix and song titles like ‘Infinite Space of a Man Without Character’ this Lisbon-based sextet aren’t hiding their psychedelic leanings under a bushel. That doesn’t stop them totally wrong-footing me on opening track ‘Countries Off…’ which come in on swirling good time organ, wah wah sing-song guitar lines and a funk rock bass line. It chugs along happily but it makes me back off and cross my arms – Funk rock? Really?! That ship has surely sailed and sunk long ago my friends! Luckily at 5 minutes in things take a turn for the epic, the vocals of Nelson Dias get harsher and the guitars spiral and chime to take you somewhere much grander and strange than the 80’s dancefloor they had been headed. The bass line and chorus does kick in again at the end but by now you’ll allow the indulgence as it is clear these guys may have a wider musical palette than you at first feared.
‘The Integrity’ comes on all slinky on acoustic guitar and bluesy crooning from Dias, it’s all rather obviously in the thrall of Led Zeppelin but then group harmonies build and quickly fade into lovely blues solo, the crooning now augmented by a fruity Moog. This is classic rock, effortlessly majestic and hairy of chest.
‘Infinite Space’ is a heavier whirlwind of proto punk and space rock and is all too brief a breather before we head into the real meat of the album, the six part epic ‘Wasted Dreams of Red Flowers’. After a Doors apeing intro were off into the big ideas and grand gestures territory of your typical rock concept piece. Musically it actually shares something in common with those other LA sun-fried freaks Janes Addiction, and there are echoes of their trippy surfer hippy workouts on “Ritual De Lo Habitual”. It is certainly more redolent of the ocean and the desert than it is of say the space stations of Rush or Yes. There are congas, there are gentle sun dappled circular guitar riffs over probing warm bass lines, but there are also retro-futurist synths and whooshing space rock type effects too. It’s an engaging yet sprawling piece, returning to the key lyric –
”..but when I climbed the tree the woods were already burnt.”
The whole album is, not unusually for rock music, peppered with environmentally concerned lyrics. This album is ambitious without being overblown, my only complaint being that despite the obvious passions lying behind the songs the band never really explode. There is no real climactic guitar wig-out to define the songs or bring the album to a memorable conclusion. In fact despite the Hendrix nod this is not really a fetishistic guitar album. The Moog and synth work of Antonio Lopes Goncalves and upfront, confident bass work of Tiago Jonatas are the bedrock of most of the music here.
The most memorable guitar part recurs throughout the ‘Wasted Dreams of Red Flowers’ suite. A slow series of heavily fased guitar chords slide in and out, elegiac and vaguely ominous, hinting at a slow sad demise. It’s a subtler and perhaps more fitting ending to an album concerning itself with the state of our planet. Having said that, this is an often delightful and captivating listen with just enough grit to please most hard rock fans.