Graham Reid | | 1 min read
Continuing their exploration of
folk-influenced rock and the ethos, if not the actual sound, of Sixties psychedelic rock, this quartet (and friends) come over reflective and
quasi-cosmic on this third studio album as they attempt to find
middle ground between roots music/Maoritanga, social comment and the
hi-tech world of the 21st century.
That many of these are in opposition
plays out in lyrics and music which also sound conflicted at times
and searching for a centre.
Lyrically some of this aims high
(“Their atomic chord had opened a gate into another time . . . and
in the maelstrom middle was made a Man” on Dream of the
Astronaut Girl). But it can equally come off as clumsy and
space-filling (“Sinner man, sinner man, cinnamon, cinema” on One
The juggle between traditional
values/folk simplicity and the modern world often jars as this aims
Gone (“I look around and what
do I see, see a gigabyte of 10 delights dancing after me”) goes the
whole prog-rock route as it shifts from simple acoustic guitar over a
heartbeat drum to crashing chords in the manner of King Crimson.
But that it and Dream of the
Astronaut Girl -- another
Crimson-like piece with space-rock/Hawkwind lyrics -- come in
two parts suggests they were conceived as separate sections rather
than a cohesive whole. And they sound that way, although
interestingly the slow and somewhat ponderous instrumental Astronaut
Girl Part II links to the similarly epic sweep on the highly
disturbing, eight minute Big Man (“a big big man put a gun
to Grandma's head”) with their everything-and-kitchen-sink closing
third (think Kashmir on downers for Big Man).
The most fully realised pieces come
late: Backbone with its low, haunting bluesy quality from Joe
Callwood's guitar and a vocal delivery by singer Warren Maxwell's
which recalls his other band Trinity Roots and his star turn on the
recent Ihimaera album; and – despite its lyrical pretensions
and confusions – the haunting sound and genuinely psychedelic
astral flight of the eight minute-plus closer One Hand.
You sense Little Bushman are taking themselves very seriously – the great failing of most later 60s psychedelic bands – and this is at its best when it tries less hard to say something significant.
Want more psychedelic music, but better? Start here.