The way Baltimore‘s Mopar Mountain Daredevils have set up their debut EP, Mopar Bloody Mopar (El Suprimo! Records), it’s like a trip that keeps going further out. Emitting four rays of molten, swirling stonerdelia each more lysergic than the last, the 25-minute collection offers the listener a gradual expansion; from the comparatively unassuming opening title track to nine-minute closer “Tiger’s Pause,” which deforms and oozes concepts over a canyon of reverb.
Put to tape and mixed over the course of just two days less than a month ago from this writing (Feb. 26-27, 2009, to be exact) by Rob Girardi at Lord Baltimore Recording, Mopar Bloody Mopar doesn’t sound at all haphazard or sloppy beyond intent, but the songs to retain a live spontaneity about them that brings the disc an energy often voided by layering in modern psych albums. I have no doubt that when I go see them open for Ya Ho Wa 13 at the Knitting Factory in NYC on Saturday, they’ll sound just like the EP — and yes, that is a good thing.
The first words out of my mouth when I popped in Mopar Bloody Mopar and heard the title track were “nice” and “tone,” in that order. The song starts with some wavy feedback before Bill Turney‘s guitar hits the riff that leads into the song. Before long, vocalist Cotton Casino (ex-Acid Mothers Temple) weaves her echoey voice over the band and the EP is under way. At 3:38, “Mopar Bloody Mopar” is by far the most straightforward track, as “Yeti Stomp,” 5:23, commences melting the walls the opener has built.
It’s a doomier opening, with a thud befitting the track’s name, but “Yeti Stomp” soon reveals itself as faster and even more noise-laden than its predecessor. Heavy wah on the guitar bends space and time while drummer Derrick Hans throws in intricate fills and changes fluidly with whatever direction the music is heading, partnering with bassist Bob Sweeney not to try and ground the song, but to push it further into the cosmos as it culminates in a massive guitar solo, ending only so the bass-led “Breathe” can begin fresh the next step of the journey.
“Breathe” and “Tiger’s Pause” are where Mopar Bloody Mopar gets really far out. Running at 7:24 and 9:04, respectively, they represent the bulk of the EP and its most unhinged moments. With “Breathe,” the structure that found a home in “Mopar Bloody Mopar” is forsaken, and an airy psych jam lifts off with ritualistic fervor. Jack Moore‘s synth work (and, one assumes, Casino‘s as well) plays a big role in the swirls and extemporaneous noises that fill out the song, and the riffs almost take a back seat to the freak out in the mix.
That free-spirited, freewheeling, free-your-mind-and-your-guitar-will-follow ethic works its way into “Tiger’s Pause” as well, which even with its quiet beginnings offers the essence of fluid acidity. A hanging tapestry of sounds leads into a slower, spacier jam with a buried vocal from Casino and more impressive lead work from Turney. Sweeney‘s bass makes its presence felt before the song hits five minutes with some warm fills and Hans‘ drumming again provides the right emphasis just where its needed, slowing down at the song’s finish and bringing Mopar Bloody Mopar to its peaceful, rightful end.
If they keep up the quality of their jams and vary their songcraft like they do here, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Mopar Mountain Daredevils show up on Tee Pee or some equivalent imprint in the near future. The deceptive intricacies in their sound finds them unique even if they’re not reinventing the psych wheel. With an unpretentious approach and a bevvy of intriguing noises, they’re easily a band worth watching to see what they do next.
[NOTE: Mopar Mountain Daredevils will be opening for Ya Ho Wa 13 in Baltimore on March 26 for their CD release show and on March 28 at the Knitting Factory Main Space in NYC. You could do a hell of a lot worse on a Saturday night in New York.]Baltimore, El Suprimo, Mopar Mountain Daredevils