San Diegan quartet Harsh Toke’s debut album “Light Up & Live” is a four-track journey to the farther reaches of acid rock. Its title could almost be a suggestion to the listener of how best to experience this release. The first part of the opening track ‘Rest In Prince’ manages to lull you into a false sense of security about what you are getting yourself into, by throwing out a huge classic rock vibe. Nice riffs, clean vocals and a good way to ease your way into it before it takes off and steers the album in different directions.
‘Weight Of The Sun’ is the longest track on this release, coming in at around fourteen minutes long. The track feels like it is split into two parts, with the song dying down at one point before coming back with another five more minutes of spaced out adventure. Next up is the title track. After a laid back bass line guides you through the first few minutes the track builds slowly adding layers of guitars and echoes. The vocals briefly return midway through the track before it again sets off on its instrumental path. The last song ‘Plug Into The Moon’ sees the band at their most expansive, and this final part of the album really shows off the talent that this four piece possess. This jam opens up and brings in new influences and instruments into the mix.
The four tracks offer a hell of a lot of substance(s) and a lot more ideas than it is possible to take in on just one listen, and on further investigation, the variety shows the potential that this band have. They really show that they are ready to take on anything, and aren’t afraid to test themselves or the listener to see how far they can take an idea.
For best results, sit back, and let this album take you on a journey that just keeps getting further and further out. Each track has its own starting point and from that point on, they are just left to evolve on their own. The production and sound are absolutely spot on for the style and approach that Harsh Toke brings to the table. A spaced out extravaganza that is difficult to describe as that much is going on during most of its running time. Best just to dive in and enjoy the ride.