There are three camps with regards to 1970’s psych rock; those who only enjoy the originators of the sound, those who just enjoy it regardless of the decade it is recorded in, and those who just don’t get it. If you fit into the middle category then San Diago’s Sacri Monti‘s debut six-track album released on the ever-growing and worth exploring Tee Pee Records (Earthless, The Skull, Ruby the Hatchet, The Atomic Bitchwax) might be of interest as it is a swirling, whirling mix of heady ’70’s psych rock. It namechecks all the great early originators and more – Sir Lord Baltimore, Blue Oyster Cult, Atomic Rooster, Deep Purple, Hawkwind – and is definitely indebted, by a considerable amount, to fellow San Diego psych bearers Earthless, but they also have a touch of the modern heavy psych classics such as Comets On Fire about them.
The opener ‘Staggered in Lies’ begins with a delicate drone and a hint of Deep Purple‘s ‘Child in Time’, so already signs of epic designs, before exploding into action with a spurt of twisting soundscapes which conjures a blaze of colourful psychedelic images in your head. Think of early Deep Purple mixed with Hawkwind‘s intense head rush moments and you have a staggeringly (sorry!) grand opener.
It follows with ‘Glowing Grey’, another seven-minute-plus mind detonation of heavy psych. The flange guitar effect combines with a bar chord groove sequence which is as memorable as Atomic Rooster‘s ‘Sleeping For Years’, and with some nifty twin guitar workout to propel this into a contender for best track on the album.
But hold on – we have ‘Slipping From the Day’, another immensely thick and fuzzy sound, which grooves around occasional whooshing organ effects and an infectious guitar hook. And the retro-psych-groove workout continues with ‘Sitting Around in a Restless Dream’. There is no let up as you are bombarded with wave after wave of heavy textures of organ and guitar soloing freakouts, all kept together by a tight rhythm section. They are a young band and the evidence is there with the drive and energy and total disregard to having a breather.
Can they sustain this? Well, to a certain degree, yes. Although by the time you get to the fifth track ‘Ancient Seas and Majesties’ it feels like they are re-treading the same ground and borrowing heavily from early Deep Purple. But the twelve-minute closer ‘Sacri Monti’ opens with Peter Green-era Fleetwood Mac-style blues before returning to a dense sound of everyone sounding like they’re on their own trip before converging to an epic climax. It might not quite reach the gigantic proportions of its intentions but it’s still an enjoyable and valiant effort no less.
After several listens to this album it immerses itself tightly around your head like thick cigarette smoke in an early 1970’s train carriage. If you are partial to some heavily ’70’s psych rock influences, laced with modern day heaviness, then Sacri Monti will be a happy home in any respectable psychedelic rock music collection.