The Mystick Krewe of Clearlight, The Mystick Krewe of Clearlight (2000)
Hard to believe nobody has stepped up to reissue the 2000 self-titled debut and only outing to-date from The Mystick Krewe of Clearlight, and likewise that some true believer heading a festival at home or abroad hasn’t convinced guitarist Jimmy Bower to play a reunion show under the weighty banner. Because even 17 years later, listening to this record, it’s as much a party as it is a collection of songs. True tonally to peer outfits like Spirit Caravan, Corrosion of Conformity and maybe even Sixty Watt Shaman in some of its Southern elements, the differentiating factor with The Mystick Krewe of Clearlight was the jam, and while the band may or may not have been started as a side-project from Bower looking to continue to scratch a groovier itch coming off his initial run in Southern metal supergroup Down, bringing on board Eyehategod bandmate Joe LaCaze (drums, R.I.P. 2013), bassist Andy Sheppard, fellow guitarist Paul Webb and keyboardist Ross Karpelman — whose organ work proves so crucial throughout to songs like “Ride Out” and “Trapeze” — they immediately made themselves stand out by being even more of and about their place: New Orleans. To wit, album opener “Swamp Jam” — as apt a description of their style as you’re going to come across — starts at a parade.
Let’s just assume that’s Mardi Gras, because even if it isn’t, it kicks off an absolute blast of a time. The Mystick Krewe of Clearlight was prescient in its incorporation of classic ’70s influences, and the dynamic between Bower and his cohorts comes through all the more as an instrumental band, since the jams just flow openly without the need for a rigid verse/chorus structure, allowing “Swamp Jam” to trip out in its second half, Sheppard‘s bassline holding it together as Karpelman‘s keys drive a sort of miniaturized Purple-tinged Made in Japan exploration. The tone thusly set, the band only pushes deeper into good vibes and heavy grooves. “Electrode” is the shortest track at five minutes and winds its way into some boogie, hitting into starts and stops that would seem a direct precursor for the kinds of funk Clutch would be proffering six years later, and “Ride Out” follows by smoothing its initial thrust into a slow-motion nod, the guitars milking every riff cycle for all it’s worth ahead of the aforementioned “Trapeze” delving into direct key-and-guitar conversation — not to mention the welcome advent of some cowbell from LaCaze. Also one of the more extended tracks at 7:25 along with “Swamp Jam” at the outset and 10-minute closer “El Niño Brown” still to come, “Trapeze” emphasizes how much The Mystick Krewe of Clearlight thrived in a longer-form context, and while they dip back into more straight-ahead fare with “A Fool’s Outfit,” putting some space between “Trapeze” and the finale, by then the vibe is so spread out that they basically can go wherever they want. If you’ve ever in your life uttered the phrase, “It’s all good,” side B of The Mystick Krewe of Clearlight would be a good reason why. Or side A, for that matter.
They had two splits out after the record, both in 2001. If you can get it, the Acid King split on Man’s Ruin is an absolute monster, both bands utterly on fire, and their let’s-cover-Skynyrd-and-we’ll-get-Pepper–Keenan-to-sing-on-it shared 7″ with The Obsessed on Southern Lord is as righteous as the concept sounds. But that’s it to-date, though a post just over a year ago on a seemingly official Thee Facebooks page read simply, “Riffs are being written….” and listed the band’s lineup as Bower on drums along with Aaron Hill, Webb and Kevin Bond (Superjoint, ex-Floodgate) on guitar, Sheppard on bass and Karpelman once again on keys, so who knows, maybe something will manifest. Particularly after revisiting the self-titled, you wouldn’t find me arguing. Let the parade begin again.
As always, I hope you enjoy.
Next week is the Quarterly Review, and even as I’m signing off for today ahead of not posting tomorrow or Sunday, I’ve already begun and will be continuing to put it together as much as possible over the weekend. It’s 50 reviews this time, Monday to Friday. I could’ve added a sixth day again, but opted not to. Maybe next time. Probably not. For some reason, that extra 10 writeups made a really big difference in my head last time out.
There was supposed to be a Six Dumb Questions interview today with Doctor Cyclops along with a full-stream of their new album, but technical complications prevented it from coming together in time. So it goes. I’m sure as soon as this post goes live the embed code will come through. Because that’s pretty much how things happen these days. EDIT: Exactly what happened.
Anyhoo, that will be up Monday, in addition to the first day of the Quarterly Review, which is abbreviated in my notes as QR1. Here’s the rest of what’s on tap for the week to come, all subject to change as usual:
Mon.: QR1, Doctor Cyclops Six Dumb Questions, Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard video.
Tue.: QR2, MotherSloth video premiere.
Wed.: QR3, The Whims of the Great Magnet Six Dumb Questions/song premiere, Devil to Pay video premiere/tour announcement.
Thu.: QR4, Here Lies Man track premiere.
Fri.: QR5, Lacertilia video premiere.
Pure. Fucking. Chaos. It’s gonna be a lot to put together, and I’m thinking about taking next Friday off work in no small part just to crash out after doing all of that nonsense — and of course news and whatever else on top of it — throughout the week, but yeah. That’s the plan. It’ll all work out as much as it’s going to, and if some stuff doesn’t, like that Doctor Cyclops thing today, there will be other stuff to step in and take the place of whatever falls out. So much music. No money in writing about any of it. No way to make a living off doing this.
Speaking of, you may notice the All That is Heavy sponsorship link is gone. Deal didn’t really work out to be that beneficial for either party, so we called it off. Just like that. If you managed to get 15 percent off an order, I hope you got some good stuff. Of course I still support Dan and his endeavors all the way and recommend ATiH for your heavy shopping needs happily.
What else? I don’t know. Roadburn’s coming. I’m basically counting the days until that happens, as one does.
Family coming north this weekend, which will be good. My sister and oldest nephew. Looking forward to seeing them both, getting up in the morning to work on Quarterly Review stuff, having good coffee and drinking it slowly, and generally chilling out, hopefully getting my head right and so on. Maybe watch some baseball. Weekend stuff. You know.
Whatever you’re up to, please have a great time and a safe time. Have fun, be careful out there and stay tuned for an absolute onslaught of music starting on Monday. It’s gonna be a marathon but it’s gonna be awesome.
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