Released Oct. 8th on Tee Pee Records
The instrumental psychedelic rock trio Earthless is back with its first studio album in 6 years, and are just as good as always. Guitarist Isaiah Mitchell, bassist Mike Eginton, and drummer Mario Rubalcaba once again deliver a set of twisting, improvisational tunes that combine psychedelic rock, stoner metal, and electric blues in mind-blowing ways. I can’t pretend to know much about this type of music—Earthless is the only band of this ilk that I’m into, and it’s mainly because Rubalcaba is in so many other bands I like (Rocket from the Crypt, Hot Snakes, Off!, Spider Fever)—but you don’t have to be a musical snob or a guitar head to dig the directions the band will take you.
On “Violence of the Red Sea” the band sets a theme in the first few seconds, then proceeds to expand on and twist that theme in numerous directions, Mitchell diving and streaking through riffs and solos while Eginton and Rubalcaba follow him and occasionally direct him back toward center. The track clocks in just under 15 minutes, as does the second number, “Uluru Rock”, which smolders for a while before building into wild noodling and solos. “Equus October” is the shortest original number in Earthless’ canon at under 6 minutes, a spacey, cosmic levitation anchored by Eginton’s bass. After the wild explorations of the first two tracks, it comes off positively subdued.
The title track has been in the band’s set for several years, first turning up on 2008’s Live at Roadburn, and has evolved from a full-on charger to a 31-minute beast that shows off all the aspects of the band, as they build on themes and evolve them to an eventual resolution. About halfway through it starts to feels like a dense fog of riffs, but then an almost hypnotic Arabic loop bubbles up to build out of the passage. There’s a controlled tension here, a conversation between the instruments that’s at once fascinating and patience-testing. It all comes back together in the end coda, probably the heaviest section they’ve done, that feels like all the improvisations and jams collapsing into a final, masterful exit.
It’s difficult to describe my attraction to Earthless since this isn’t my usual taste. It’s easy to get lost in their grooves and their sometimes thrilling twists and turns, and it’s nice to occasionally listen to something outside my typical genre box, something that takes me for a sonic ride and challenges my assumptions about what “jam” and “stoner” rock are. Earthless managed to pull me in with their live show this October, the combination of amazing playing and a psychedelic light show almost hypnotizing the audience into becoming part of their shared trip. From the Ages is worth checking out for any rock fan willing to get themselves into a different headspace from time to time.