Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus, “Wind Seized” official video
If you’re not yet friendly with the early-onset heavy psych sprawl of Swedish youngins Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus, chances are that by the time you make your way through their video for the song “Wind Seized,” you will be. Tomorrow marks the release of the Stockholm four-piece’s Small Stone label debut (third album overall), Spirit Knife, which follows the 2011 Transubstans release and recent Small Stone reissue, Bloom, in setting a dynamic, flowing course throughout its 59-minute run and across eight tracks that run a gamut of updated classic influences. Cuts like “Point Growth” delve into sweet, wide-open, Cream-style psychedelic blues, distinguished immediately through the use of organ, while elsewhere, “Sworn Collision” takes “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” head-on to a place no less endearing for its relative minimalism.
The key to the album, though, is immersion. Much as one might look at the moniker Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus and feel lost within it before getting to the last syllable, so too does 10:37 opener “Fog by the Steep” prove encompassing, a languid, rolling groove demonstrating an underlying core of heavy rock that consistently works its way into and through the ensuing full-length as guitarist/vocalist Karl Apelmo, guitarist Micke Pettersson, bassist Viktor Källgren and drummer Henke Persson — as well as guest organist Patrik Kolar, whose contributions aren’t to be forgotten — weave smoothly through atmospheres alternately rambunctious and serene, drawing rounded lines between so that Spirit Knife eases the listener along their path. A catchy shorter cut like “Wind Seized” (for which you can see the video above) retains its airy vibes, and likewise, the space-rocking finale title-track keeps its songwriting in focus even as its swirl seems to consume the album whole, and this balance between gives Spirit Knife not just a sense of consciousness, but of accomplishment as well, the band offering old Zeppelin-style soul in “Clang” and carving their identity in passages in the dream-echoes of “Deep Hardened Woods.”
I won’t lie: Spirit Knife surprised the living hell out of me the first time I heard it. Not just because the band is relatively few in years, but because it’s an hour long and they seem to have no trouble holding it together for that stretch. The closing duo of “Point Growth” and “Spirit Knife” provide both apex and post-script, and in the fullness of their sound, the scope of their influences and the edge of individuality they bring to them, Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus are every bit worth the investment of time and attention. You might notice Small Stone has the record up on its Bandcamp page, but given the opportunity ahead of the release date — which is tomorrow, April 29 — the chance to feature it here in full alongside the premiere of the “Wind Seized” video wasn’t something I was going to pass up. Please feel free to dig in below, and enjoy:
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus release Spirit Knife April 29 on Small Stone Records. The album was recorded and mixed by Viktor Källgren at Puch Studios in Stockholm and mastered by Chris Goosman at Baseline Audio in Ann Arbor, MI. The band have the following live dates booked:
08.05.2014 Insikten, Jönköping (S)
09.05.2014 Hagenbusch, Marl (D)
10.05.2014 Alte Molkerei, Bocholt (D)
07.06.2014 Pustervik, Göteborg (S)