Samsara Blues Experiment, Waiting for the Flood (2013)
There was a lot I liked about Samsara Blues Experiment‘s third album, Waiting for the Flood (review here), but nothing quite so much as the surprise factor. After their second full-length, Revelation and Mystery (review here), came out in 2011, I felt like I had the Berlin outfit more or less figured out. They had shifted away from the jamminess of the preceding 2009 debut, Long Distance Trip (review here), and I assumed they’d continue along in that direction, toward a straightforward heavy rock vibe, maybe still with some psychedelic elements, but more or less working in traditional structures toward traditional ends.
Well, along comes Waiting for the Flood. Four tracks, not a one of them under 10 minutes long. Just these huge, sprawling, cosmically gorgeous jams, deeply progressive but still swinging and loose, and everything I had expected from the band went right out the window. I loved it last fall when I first heard the record, and revisiting it today, my reaction is much the same. I’ve gone back to the album periodically since it came out — some records I review and they never get put on again; that’s not the case here — so I’m not at all flying blind, but I still feel a sense of spontaneity coming from the extended instrumental sections, the then-foursome letting various movements flesh out and go where they will, and I’m still enthralled with how well Samsara Blues Experiment are able to give the tracks hooks and definite verses and choruses amidst all this space-groove meandering. Trying to predict where these guys might go in their progression isn’t a mistake I’ll make again, particularly now that they’re pared down to a single-guitar trio, but if they wanted to use Waiting for the Flood as a foundation from which to continue to build stylistically, they gave themselves a lot work with.
More than that, though, I really like the album. It’s one I put on when I just want to drift out for a bit and it hasn’t failed me yet in that regard, up to and including the last 10 minutes, which I apparently just spent staring at the screen while opener “Shringara” moved into the title-track. Rock and bliss.
Tonight, I’m driving to Connecticut. Tomorrow, I’m driving to Pennsylvania to see King Dead, King Buffalo and All Them Witches, which is something I’m very much looking forward to. I haven’t been to Stroudsberg in years, and I expect it will be a good time. I’m driving back to Connecticut immediately after the show (I think?) in order to maximize the efficiency of getting back to the Boston area in time on Sunday to go see Sleep at the House of Blues with Earthless/Heavy Blanket opening. I have no doubt this will be one of the best weekends of shows of the year, and I can’t wait to hit the road and make it happen. I’ll have reviews and whatnot next week of both.
Also think I’ll probably review that Earth record, since that’s pretty well ingrained in my consciousness, and maybe Pallbearer, since that seems to have struck such a nerve with the entire planet. We’ll see. I’ve listened to that a couple times through already and it’s good, but I’m not sure I’m on board with the holy-fuck-this-is-the-best-thing-ever crowd. I wasn’t last time either, but so it goes. That band works hard. I don’t begrudge them what mainstream acceptance they’ve garnered along the way.
I was going to do a round of Radio Adds today, but every sentence I wrote in the earlier part of the day felt like pulling teeth — nothing against what I was writing about; it’s me, not you — so I just decided to have some fun and do that Earth guest singer thing instead. It was the right decision. Sometimes I get so bogged down in the little routines I make for myself that I forget that the reason The Obelisk is what gets me out of bed most mornings is because I enjoy it, not because I’m obligated to it. If you know what I’m talking about, you know that’s a huge difference.
Anyway, I gotta go pack so that when The Patient Mrs. gets home from whatever joyful social obligation it is that she’s out meeting we can hit the road south once again. Good times ahead.
Hope you have a wonderful, disaster-free weekend. Thanks to everyone who donated to the Small Stone fundraiser this week. I know a lot of you already gave, but it would be amazing if we could knock our way up to 10 grand in the next week or so, just because the dude needs the money to get his office cleaned up sooner rather than later. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check that link or just scroll to the top of the frontpage.
And when you’re done donating, please check out the forum and radio stream.