Lemurian Folk Songs, Ima: Pyramid Dreams of Triacontagon

Lemurian Folk Songs Ima

Sonic escapism can take any number of shapes or any number of non-shapes, and Lemurian Folk Songs do likewise. The first thing one hears on the nine-minute opener “Highself Roadhouse” is a chant-like vocal from singer/keyboardist Benus Krisztina that’s just two words: “Eternal circle.” Amid echo and reverb spaciousness comes a tonal warmth that extends from Ambrus Bence‘s guitar and newcomer Nemesházi Attila‘s bass to Baumgartner István‘s snare drums, adding to a fluid mix of fuzz and psychedelic vibing that becomes the running theme throughout the four-song/38-minute long-player, Ima. The title of the album is properly written with a kind of pyramid symbol next to the word (I can never get those things to show up in text; this site runs on a very old framework), but it would seem to tie into the pyramid-minded artwork, conjuring visions of ancient astronaut weirdness and all sorts of amalgamated who-knows-what.

And fair enough, since the Para Hobo Records-released album operates in a not completely dissimilar manner, with each song finding its own way around that central warmth as the Budapest-based four-piece steer its direction through airy post-whatnot or psychedelic boogie in second track “Füst,” indeed a bit of folk serenity in the penultimate “Pillanat,” and, on the 15:42 closer “Melusina III,” a deluxe, nod-ready fuzzed-out jam that resolves itself in a wash of noise and residual effects, seeming to leave nothing behind as the guitar line drifts out and leaves the bass and drums to hold out the central rhythm until that too dissipates, leaving just the lasers-in-space of guitar, which also fades out over the final minute-plus. That’s an as-reasonable-as-anything ending for a record like Ima — which is the band’s second behind 2017’s Maro and their 2016 debut EP, Nommo, from before Krisztina joined — but of course the focus such as it is is much more centered around the journey to get there rather than what happens at the end. That’s the nature of an offering such as this, but it’s a form in which Lemurian Folk Songs thrive, finding a home for themselves among a host of otherworldly sensibilities.

They would seem to be aware of such a trajectory, as well. Even the band’s moniker refers to some vision of a lost world, with Lemuria having been a once-postulated sunken continent that united India, Madagascar and Australia via what’s now the Indian Ocean. Obviously it would’ve been a sizable continent, but it was theorized because of similarities primate fossils in those places — thus Lemuria from “lemur.” Some Tamil writers adopted Lemuria as an interpretation of their own legendary sunken continent, Kumari Kandam (thanks Wikipedia), and others have taken on the idea of a lost civilization and so on. Lemurian Folk Songs, then, would be what these mythical people in this forgotten culture sang, whoever and whenever they were. So it is that the ethereal is manifest throughout Ima, and though the moniker is more a framework than a conceptual lens — that is, I don’t think they’re actually trying to write a lost culture’s folk music so much as they’re trying to write quality heavy psychedelia; a goal they achieve and then some, by the way — the feeling of being in another place is nonetheless crucial to the affect of the material.

Lemurian Folk Songs (Photo by Robert Kranitz)

From those initial chants, “Highself Roadhouse” sets itself out across a sonic sprawl that’s immersive and rife with intertwining energies, hypnotic in its repetitions but with enough change throughout to stave off being redundant. The trajectory is outward, but “Highself Roadhouse” is less about space than spirit, and as one can’t see a song title containing the word “roadhouse” without thinking of The Doors, it’s worth noting that Krisztina does work a bit of Jim Morrison swagger into her cadence on the opener. That’s all the more fitting as Ima shifts gears into “Füst,” which is faster and more physical in its movement, Bence showcasing choice lead work as Attila‘s bass tone continues to be a highlight unto itself. I am an eternal sucker for righteous low-end warmth, but even so, the work done here in anchoring the proceedings in complementing István in the rhythm section as well as the Bence‘s guitar is the kind that only makes a good album or band that much better.

“Füst” smooths and chills out effectively over its 8:25 run, and that makes the transition into the shorter “Pillanat” that much more of a highlight unto itself. The line between “Highself Roadhouse” and “Füst” was drawn with a quiet guitar and silence before the boogie riff started, but with “Füst” and “Pillanat” it’s more direct, an echoing vocal ending the second track shortly before the third picks up with its soft and melodic line. And “Pillanat” may be the briefest cut on Ima at just over five minutes, but it’s a beautifully meditative moment that does much to enrich the record as a whole in vibe, mood and aesthetic, showcasing a patience and broader dynamic than Lemurian Folk Songs have yet shown while also acting as a setup for “Melusaina III,” the rolling fuzz of which hits immediately and in hell-yes fashion, with Bence wasting no time in establishing the central riff as effects come to swirl around it, the drums take a laid back push and the bass, as ever, thickens the proceedings engagingly, given further dimension to the space the tones occupy.

It’s also Attila‘s bass that holds to the central figure as Bence‘s guitar goes wandering in the closer’s midsection, eventually working its way back to the roll and out again as Krisztina‘s keys fill out the melody. From there, there’s just about no coming back and Lemurian Folk Songs know it. But “coming back” was seemingly never in the plans anyway, and their already-noted departure-via-noise gives a last-minute flourish of experimentalism that comes across as underscoring the live feel of the performances preceding. I don’t know if they recorded live or not, but there’s a vitality to the work throughout Ima that very much suits Lemurian Folk Songs, and with the range of their songcraft and the meld of spontaneity and structure they bring to the offering, the converted among heavy psych heads should be well on board for the voyage as they present it. A sleeper, maybe, but not to be missed, with each track doing something to enhance the entirety in such a way as to make it all the more resonant by the time it’s done.

Lemurian Folk Songs, Ima (2019)

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