Spaceslug, Mountains and Reminiscence: Drift and Consciousness

spaceslug mountains and reminiscence

Sometimes a band puts out an EP and there’s an agenda behind it. They’re going on tour, or trying to make money for a subsequent recording, and a short release is something new and decent to put on a merch table or an webstore and draw people in. Sometimes it’s nothing more than a desire to keep momentum going after a successful full-length, and sometimes there are just extra tracks laying around a band wants to get out to the public.

I’m not sure which scenario it is in the end driving the release of Mountains and Reminiscence by Polish tonal adventurers Spaceslug, but frankly, I’ll take it any way it comes. The new five-songer from the Wroclaw three-piece of drummer/vocalist Kamil ZiĆ³lkowski, bassist/vocalist Jan Rutka and guitarist/backing vocalist Bartosz Janik arrives via BSFD Records and Oak Island Records, checks in at just over 27 minutes, and immediately makes itself comfortable in a deep-running mix of warm fuzz rendered spacious through echoing vocals and (mostly) languid grooves.

In method, it’s not so far removed from what Spaceslug accomplished on their second full-length, Time Travel Dilemma (review here), but nor should it be since three of its component pieces — “I am the Gravity,” “Elephemeral” and the 2001: A Space Odyssey-sampling “Space Sabbath” — were tracked during the same session this past January. Opener “Bemused and Gone” and closer “Opposite the Sun” are newer, recorded in July, and they effectively sandwich the middle tracks with two very different vibes that nonetheless remain consistent in their sound and headphone-worthy heavy psychedelic purposes.

With “Bemused and Gone,” it’s drift. Drift all the way. With an anchor of subtle tension in the running guitar line, Spaceslug ignite Mountains and Reminiscence on a particularly dreamy and hypnotic note. This is something they’ve been able to do well since their debut, Lemanis (review here), surfaced last year and distinguished itself among 2016’s best, but like much of their approach, it’s a take that solidified even further (as much as anything here isn’t molten) on Time Travel Dilemma and clearly something with which Spaceslug are signaling their intent to keep pursuing.

All the better, then, that “Opposite the Sun” should complement at the end. Fading-in drums from ZiĆ³lkowski are met with Rutka‘s rumbling low end, and Janik‘s fuzz-drenched guitar arrives as the final element before the band launches into a crashing verse that runs at a near-gallop. It’s not the most riotous song in the world — hell, it’s not even the most riotous song on Mountains and Reminiscence, which is “I am the Gravity” — but it is a stark contrast to “Bemused and Gone” and serves to emphasize the range that is emerging and has already emerged in Spaceslug‘s sound, which, while able to give the impression of being a trance-inducing monolith of amp-pushed heat, offers an underlying nuance that continues to demonstrate progressive potential.

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As to what the group will do with that range ultimately, it’s difficult to say, but it meshes well with their loyalty to oozing riffs and vocals, and whether they’re playing fast or slow at any given point, their sense of command is obviously increasing. As a result, they’re all the more able to conjure atmospheric spaciousness and largess of tone without contradicting the openness of the one with the other’s risk of claustrophobia.

Between “Bemused and Gone” and “Opposite the Sun,” Mountains and Reminiscence tells a kind of mini-story of disintegration. To explain, they shift from the shortest inclusion in the 4:30 post-grunge banger “I am the Gravity” through the post-Sungrazer bounce and hook of centerpiece “Elephemeral” to the longest in the slow-rolling, darker-vibed, aptly-titled “Space Sabbath” (6:26), and in so doing push from one song into the next toward more ethereal ground. Guitar alone starts “I am the Gravity” and guitar alone ends “Space Sabbath” — but it does so respectively with the most straightforward riff of the EP and with barely-there minimalist warble retained in drift even after the accompanying bass has faded.

From one end to the other of those two moments, a linear transition is taking place that, while Mountains and Reminiscence is a short release, nonetheless makes for a quick album-style flow that seems distinct from the opener and closer surrounding and on its own wavelength in terms of how the songs relate to each other. The effect that has is to make Mountains and Reminiscence almost like two different offerings mashed together in a particle accelerator — a two-song single and a three-song EP drawn from two sessions and combined into one, which I suppose it is — but given Spaceslug‘s overarching consistency of sound, it seems only reasonable to expect Mountains and Reminiscence to set up a considerable fluidity over its span, and of course it does precisely that.

Spaceslug have worked quickly to get two full-lengths and this EP out, and one has no reason to believe they’ll look to slow the momentum they’ve been able to build thus far going into 2018, but more than the impressive rate at which they churn out digipaks, tapes, LP platters and t-shirts is the sonic growth to which they’ve clearly committed themselves. Of all the temporal threads they’ve established thus far into what one hopes will be a long career, that’s the most resonant, and that’s what would seem to be pushing them toward the forefront of the vibrant heavy underground in Poland and, of course, realms beyond.

Spaceslug, Mountains and Reminiscence (2017)

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