[sic] Magazine

Million Brazilians – Red Rose & Obsidian

Long-time sound shaman Grant Corum has been at it for over a decade and his Psychic Sounds label has come to house a rich and disorientating array of out-there experimentation. Contributing to many a mind-bending missive during this time, most recently on Adele H’s undulating Civilization LP, as well as exorcising the demons on his own eponymous solo work, he also holds it down alongside Suzanne Stone in Million Brazilians and Red Rose & Obsidian is the pair’s latest bleary-eyed communiqué from the back streets of some cryptomnesionic subconscious.

Decamping from their usual Portland home and recorded in an ancient meeting ground in coastal Maine, Red Rose & Obsidian was conceived in the company of a waterfall and whispering woodland voices. Channelling the haunted energy of the place, Stone was lucky to survive the session after crashing her car on an icy road the day before recording began. Her ghostly lead vocals materialise from the ether accordingly throughout this series of rolling incantations, sounding not unlike the doleful Anika in other places and Red Rose & Obsidian not a great distance from her off-grid hook-up last year with Exploded View.

Perhaps even further from the beaten track than ever before, Corum and Stone head straight for the uncharted warren spaces of their chosen rabbit hole. The meandering “When The Ship Comes” burbles through Eastern-tinged, free-form psychedelia; a souk-town hangover, the bass line throbs in the skull as it makes its way down claustrophobic alleyways, strange and smoky jangles creaking from every doorway, Stone’s Teutonic, near-spoken-word a tormented wail. Fragmented flutes and bent stings later croak like frogs, bleeding into the title track, an opium-laced zoner that snakes a course through the sands of time, Stone’s unhinged vocal threatening to pull the whole trip right off the nearest cliff-edge at any moment.

Maine-coast resident and poet Toussaint St. Negritude provides spoken word for “Geodelphic Empathies”, a small-hours psychedelic jazz jam with one foot in pure art installation while the hand-drums and rhythmic swells in “Traversing the Violet Skies” hypnotize and beckon like an old-world enchantress, aquatic percussion sloshing around like a stony sea front. Unsteady closer “Behold / Coming Down The Mountain” brings you back into the room immediately with a dose of smelling salts, lurching unexpectedly into sax-fuelled kraut, clipped vocals chirruping away like Bedlam’s own dawn chorus. A patchwork of past-life flashbacks, Red Rose & Obsidian is as bewildering as it is breath-taking.

~With oceanic “Inscape” artwork by the late Mati Klarwein (best known for his hallucinatory Miles Davis Bitches Brew and Live Evil imagery), Red Rose & Obsidian is out now via Lullabies For Insomniacs.~