[sic] Magazine

Dreamtime – Strange Pleasures

Many claim to worship at the altar of psychedelic rock, but Dreamtime – incidentally an enigmatic way of Aboriginal thinking in which the present, past and future co-exist – not only live it through Zac Anderson and Cat Maddin’s shamanistic vocal turns, they also spread the good word far and wide with full-on guitar idolatry, making it all too easy to convert and submit to their heavy grooves in the process. Strange Pleasures is the Brisbane band’s third LP and over nearly 80 minutes, it also soundtracks an imaginary “fantasy film that follows a spirit’s journey from the human body through death, mystic rituals, multiple reincarnations, and on into astral journeys and alien encounters.” This inevitably translates to a creative, varied and lengthy run-time in which weirdo interludes and dreamy palate cleansers bleed into chilly psych-folk, spacey synth epics, exotic ragas that drift out of the mists of time, as well – of course – as gnarly, guitar-on-guitar cosmic chaos.

Most commonly at home, however, in acid-fried rites of passage, out-there wah funk gives way to tribal grooves and a glittering cascade of organ on “Luminous Night” – a strong track that puts recent Goat material firmly in the shade. The same rhythmic currents pulse in the cool flames of “Fire”, a mystic odyssey led by Maddin’s mind-expanding mantra and which latterly develops into a deeply devotional freak-out. “The Sentient”, on the other hand, is a fast-tempo face-melter from the get-go, roboticised vocal manipulation bringing to mind the advent of the Rise of the Machines while “Ascension” pits Anderson’s monotone against Maddin’s flighty chirrup for a howling barrel down some lonely interstellar highway.

The longest cut on the album at eleven minutes, “Spectral Entropy” has the length to first launch into pseudo-cosmological gibberish, then the deepest recesses of 70s prog and still have time to explore oddball kosmiche before fading back into more horizontal vibes. This misleading sea of tranquility is short-lived, however, quickly and irrevocably shattered by album closer, “Serpent’s Tongue”, thunderous volleys of drums and guitar setting the scene for Anderson’s jaw-dropping turn as the throat-singing high-priest of heavy rock. As if this weren’t all enough for our wanderlust spirit-guide, breaks in the storm then allow Maddin’s quiver into the busy mix and the swift tempo and textural changes bring to mind the always stellar duet work of Black Mountain’s Stephen McBean and Amber Webber. Strange Pleasures thus closes out as it begins in dizzying, disorientating and downright breathless fashion, its narrative arc tenuous, but often quite fascinating.

Best track: “Serpent’s Tongue”

~Strange Pleasures is released 9th December 2016 on all-black double vinyl housed in a gatefold sleeve featuring original artwork by Indonesian artist Riandy Karuniawan via the collaborative efforts of Cardinal Fuzz and Sky Lantern Records.~