Their sound is rife with space rock mystique and full of encompassing low-end, but what really stands Finland’s Temples out among their peers in the increasingly crowded spectrum of European heavy psychedelia is the fact that their songs never stop being songs, no matter how jammed-out they get. That may not have been the case on 2009’s Taajuuksia or the demos that preceded it, but with their latest outing, the full-length Periplaneta Nova (Mikrofoni Records), the Helsinki four-piece keep a grounded sense of structure even as they purposefully veer away from it into the charted course of clicked-wah antigravity. I won’t say the four extended tracks on Periplaneta Nova – “Perimetri” (9:10), “The Atheist” (12:20), “In Search of the Sun” (6:27) and “Attar” (11:35) – don’t have any openness to them at all, that’s far from the case and as gradually as “Perimetri” unfolds at the album’s beginning, a laid back feel is clearly paramount in their sound, but it’s easy to divine a purpose behind their meanderings. Accordingly, Temples are as adept at conveying a mood as they are the casual, live vibe of the recording, and though the material is obviously split up time-wise to allow for the two sides of a vinyl release, the flow crafted is total and runs throughout all four tracks.
Their keeping info sparse as regards personnel also speaks to an underlying philosophy at work – the CD’s liner and all internet info credits Ville, Miina, Mikko and Tommi, but says no more about who does what than that – and adds an element of mystery that doesn’t necessarily affect the listening process one way or another, but nonetheless colors the band’s overall image. It’s worth noting as well that the long intro of “Perimetri,” the first two-and-a-half minutes, accounts for almost all of the difference time-wise between that song and its side B mirror, “In Search of the Sun.” On that song, it’s 42 seconds before the quiet, echoing vocals kick in, and – the intro of “Perimetri” notwithstanding – that’s as long as Temples seem willing to go. Indeed, their quickness to introduce the verses on “The Atheist” and “Attar,” the two longer cuts, is a big part of what allows Periplaneta Nova to feel grounded structurally even in the face of such lengthy divergence. With its long, fuzz-soaked instrumental passages, “The Atheist” benefits greatly from its relatively straightforward beginning, offering a sense of development within itself as well as an expansion on what the listener expects after “Perimetri.” Some sense of early Om-style ritual can be heard in the bass’ inflection, and, to a lesser extent, the vocal cadence, but however rich the low-end gets, the guitars are never too far out of control. “The Atheist” weaves into verses and grand sections of riff-led jamming with apparent ease, culminating in a long solo that seems to languish over the slowdown until, finally, the song collapses.
A more viscous pace and open-string vibrations work well on the CD to lend consistency between “The Atheist” and “In Search of the Sun,” which picks up at 2:23 with quicker, trad-doom chugging repurposed into what – were there keyboard swirls to accompany – would almost certainly be definitive space rock. The vocals remain throaty and far back, more of an anchoring presence than a focal point, and following the delivery of the songs title line, at about four minutes in, the drums lead the rest of the band into a more upbeat section that’s pure stoner topped with extra reverb, until a final diminishing of pace secures an easy transition to the darker atmosphere of the closer’s intro. “Attar” accounts for the strongest vocal performance on Periplaneta Nova, and discernible use of layering or backing vocals amid semi-freakout instrumental psychedelic stretches. To some extent, “Attar” feels more constructed of disparate parts than its predecessors, but by the time you get there, it hardly matters, since if Temples don’t already have you locked in an enjoying the trip, it’s probably not going to happen. If you’re a fan of fuzz bass, though, it’s more than worth any kinks in the duration of “Attar” to get to the rumble beneath the guitar solo around the song’s halfway point, which nears a Justin Chancellor-esque tonality without ever wholly touching on Tool’s level of progressive pretense or directly competing with the guitar. Rather, things get quiet and Periplaneta Nova finishes with some of its warmest tonality yet, riding thick riffing and a slow space-blues solo to a subdued conclusion.
They know their genre, clearly. I won’t accuse Temples of being overly original, but their grasp on their sound is firm and there’s been discernible development since their earlier demo work. Those who caught on to their sax-infused countrymen in The Fërtility Cült or who align themselves to neo-psych groovers like Wight and the tone-worship elements of space doomers Dark Buddha Rising, earlier YOB and/or Ufomammut should have no problem figuring out where Periplaneta Nova is coming from, and given Temples’ noted ability to make even a heady jam sound coherent, the accessibility is all the more potent for experienced ears. It’s not necessarily groundbreaking in terms of expanding on the style, but Temples’ latest engages the form and creates something relatively individual within these tracks. It’s enough to bring me back for multiple listens as well as make me look forward to their next outing, whatever form that might take.
Tags: Finland, Helsinki, Mikrofoni Records, Temples