[sic] Magazine

Grails – Deep Politics

“If music was a lady, we would fuck anything that moves” , so says Grails founding member Emil Amos in a recent interview. And he’s not wrong, despite the crude sentiments of that statement, he certainly has a point; these guys are not only keen students of strange music, they’re top of the class. Indeed, this Portland quartet are one of those rare breeds of bands that effortlessly progresses in tandem with each release from their discography, without deriding from the quality of their output. From the smouldering blues-rock of Black Tar Prophecies series to devastating acid-drenched sounds of 2008′s Doomsdayer’s Holiday , Grails are a band that like to keep us on our toes.

Deep Politics finds the quartet in their finest form yet, a multi-layered, eclectic affair where the band explore occult culture and a history of film music, mining and cultivating a landscape of weird musical colours and textures, while dabbling in cut and paste techniques frequently used by hip-hop producers. This is most evident on the haunting, electronic psychedelia of ‘Corridors of Power’ where fragments of sound clips wave their way through meditative middle eastern instrumentation and razor sharp beats. There’s also certainly something cinematic in the spaghetti western stylings of ‘All the Colours of the Dark’ too, which closes in on a sun-bursting melody reminiscent of ‘Apache’.

The piano-led title track is another joy to behold, arguably the band’s most poignant, if not beautiful, moment, where the ivory notes mingle with distant guitar wails, not too far South of a certain Pink Floyd , before being swallowed by heart-breaking orchestration that soars when you need it to most. From there we’re treated to the epic and bucolic ‘Almost Grew My Hair’ which could have worked excellently with the exciting parts of video game ‘Red Dead Redemption’, given its dusty riffs, rustic vocal howls and flourishing percussion. ‘I Led Three Lives’ follows kicking off with a pulsing drone that wouldn’t be out-of-place on an early Tangerine Dream record, before veering off into another tangent via some superbly executed acid-rock riffs and more mournful string arrangements.

Which leaves the acoustic-led ‘Deep Snow’ to round off this career-best album from Grails, with the band again choosing a psychedelic route. It’s a path that suits them very well and it’s easy to see why magazines such as Rock-A-Rolla are only too happy to bestow ‘modern day Pink Floyd’ accolades upon them. A superb and engaging album from start to finish. An LP that, for me at least, will take some beating for 2011′s album of the year.

~Review originally appeared at Mike’s blog, Phantom Channel.~

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