For some time now, Californian Psych junkie Zach Oakley has wanted to team up with his percussionist brother Matt, and this wish has finally materialised with new project Volcano. Debut album The Island (Tee Pee Records) is a million miles away from the weird Blues of Harsh Toke, Joy, and Loom, from where the quintet has been culled: introducing African rhythms to whacked-out jams and creating an unusual yet vibrant concoction.
Not unlike sparkling UK trio Vodun in its embracing of Funky goodness, opener ‘Naked Prey’ has the riff-heavy groove of Funkadelic coursing through it, Zach’s spoken and shouted vocals a ringer for a zonked George Clinton. The hot Psych-Prog rhythms, irresistible leadplay, and subtle organ, meanwhile, are not too far removed from a Can workout. The bongos and sticks of the ensuing title track are soon drenched in Billy Ellsworth’s crazy basslines, jerky riffs which motivate the limbs, and more of that infectious and lazy vocal which never fails to raise a smile: at times not unlike Jim Morrison’s ‘American Prayer’ monologue but with a lascivious energy that stirs the blood.
The early laid-back riff and organ stages of ‘Know Evil No Demon’ are charged by Oakley’s Mansonesque, shouted incantations and wicked chuckles, and as the parps and lead breaks are ramped up and feed off a gloriously fuzzy production it’s impossible to calm those physical jerks. The chanted backing vocals are a retrograde joy, the dropped-out nature of the final movement possessing a rhythm / organ riff duel and a dual lead guitar warble in which to lose one’s mind completely. As the whirling, oscillating riff of the brief ‘Eruption’ descends into the barrelling freight- train soul of ‘Skewered’ mixes with the deep, syncopated rhythms and African chants, there’s a burning heat which is electrified by Asian-influenced leadplay.
If this was an Extreme Metal album the listener would expect closer ’10,000 Screaming Souls’ to be a harrowing journey through Purgatory. Instead, it’s an uplifting voyage through Jazz, Hair The Musical and any Eddie Hazell euphoric guitar romp you can shake your stick at. Look: this has Bootsy Collins, Clinton, James Brown and God knows who else all over this and it’s fucking delicious. Heavy music doesn’t always need brutality, Brothers, and Sisters: it does need The One, the soul; and Volcano deliver in buckets. So refreshing, so batshit danceable too, it hurts.
8 / 10