Some combinations in life, you just can’t go wrong. Ed Mundell and a wah pedal, for example. This proved to be the case last year when Mundell‘s jammy trio with bassist Collyn McCoy (Trash Titan) and Rick Ferrante (Sasquatch), the cumbersomely-named The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic, made their self-titled debut (review here), as it proved to be the case so many times over the guitarist’s years holding down leads in Monster Magnet and The Atomic Bitchwax. Well, further affirmation is welcome by me, and Mundell, McCoy and Ferrante seem only too pleased to provide it on the new tape EP, Through the Dark Matter.
A front-and-back j-card with blacklight-sensitive art from Brad Moore meant to invoke Miles Davis is included with the bright-orange cassette, which is pressed through Orbit Unlimited Records in a numbered (the numbers are also blacklight sensitive) edition of 200 copies. CDs were made available for the power trio’s recent European tour alongside Sasquatch, but 500 of those were made, so the tapes are somewhat harder to come by. Understandably, since the recording job by Snail‘s Matt Lynch at Mysterious Mammal Studios does so well in capturing the live dynamic between The UEMG‘s members, whether it’s Ferrante and McCoy stomping out on side 2’s “Day of the Comet” or Mundell setting an initial mood with minimal effects ambience on the introductory “Small Magellanic Cloud.”
Like the self-titled, Through the Dark Matteris clearly instrumental in its focus, but The UEMG do introduce some vocals for the first time to their studio work, McCoy stepping in for a suitably bluesy delivery on the Willie Dixon cover “Spoonful,” which is the centerpiece of the CD/digital version but closes side 1 of the tape following the intro and the jammed-out title-track. The effect its placement has is to ground the tape somewhat — these cats can jam, and when they do, they go pretty far out — a hook and start-stop funk-wah lead line reminding me no less of Clutch now than when I first streamed “Spoonful” and “Through the Dark Matter” here in April, and the relatively straightforward, traditional structure sits well between “Through the Dark Matter”‘s cosmic pulsations, the bass-heavy push of “Day of the Comet” and the space-jazz blissout of “Large Magellanic Cloud,” which closes out side 2, guitars, bass and drums all seeming to intertwine even as they stretch out in their own directions.
While it’s a relatively short 26 minutes — you wouldn’t call Through the Dark Mattera full-length, though it flows well — The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic‘s EP is all the more worth digging into for how natural it sounds coming from the band. Lynch is an experienced engineer and gets a clear, professional sound here that plays well with the Rhodes McCoy adds or the layers in Mundell‘s guitar, but the overall vibe is that The UEMG could more or less show up somewhere, plug in and make this happen. Maybe that’s a testament to the experience of the players involved or the several years they’ve already been jamming together, but whatever it is, a short release that plays out with such substance is an accomplishment that makes Through the Dark Mattera worthy follow-up to the debut. Wherever their voyage next takes them, I doubt it’s going to be much of a challenge to follow.
The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic, Through the Dark Matter EP (2014)
Posted in audiObelisk on April 21st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
They’re ultra electric. They’re mega galactic. And in just a couple days’ time, The UEMG – or The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic, if you’re not into the whole brevity thing, man — will begin a European tour alongside fellow Californian heavy rock mavens Sasquatch, launching the shindig at Desertfest in London before hopping over to Berlin and taking the show on the road from there for more shows in Germany as well as Italy, Austria, France, Switzerland and Belgium. To mark the occasion, the trio of guitarist Ed Mundell (ex-Monster Magnet), bassist/sometimes-vocalist Collyn McCoy (ex-Trash Titan) and drummer Rick Ferrante – the latter of whom will be pulling double duty on the road in Sasquatch — put a new EP to tape with Snail‘s Matt Lynch at his Mysterious Mammal Studios that they’re calling Through the DarkMatter.
For anyone who may have caught (solar) wind of The UEMG‘s self-titled debut last year (review here), the five-track/26-minute Through the Dark Mattertakes a somewhat different approach. Sandwiched by the spaced-out feel of the shorter “Small Megallanic Cloud” and longer “Large Magellanic Cloud,” the three middle cuts present distinct takes on the three-piece’s when-in-doubt-jam-it-out methodology, blending heavier space rock thrust from Ferrante and McCoy with Mundell‘s storied leads in acid jazz profundity. “Spoonful,” the centerpiece, is a cover of Willie Dixon and boasts a suitably bluesy boogie, Mundell stepping in to deliver funky start-stops that bring Clutch to mind while McCoy — for the first time recorded in The UEMG — takes the mic to handle vocals, which he does with a gravelly but not overly affected style. As he seems to hint in discussing the EP and Euro tour plans below, he won’t be the only vocalist for The UEMG, but “Spoonful” proves he could be.
“Through the Dark Matter” preceding and “Day of the Comet” following show the development in dynamic at the heart of The UEMG. The EP’s title-track puts Mundell‘s guitar front and center, while on “Day of the Comet,” it seems to be McCoy‘s bass at the fore — Ferrante ever-steady behind and not shy to step up and hold down the proceedings on his own when asked — while the guitar wails out noisy leads in cosmic echoing form. However you might approach the EP, The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic continue to wow with their fluidity, and their motion into and out of “Spoonful” is as seamless as one could ask. It’s like they hid a party behind a moon deep in their own solar system.
As they get ready for Desertfest and more, I’m fortunate enough today to stream the title cut from Through the Dark Matterand “Spoonful” for your listening enjoyment. Please find them below, followed by some words from McCoy about the recording, the tour with Sasquatch and future plans for The UEMG.
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
The EP – “Through the Dark Matter” – was recorded at Mysterious Mammal earlier this month with engineer/studio honcho Matt Lynch (of Snail).
Track list is as follows:
1. Small Magellanic Cloud 2. Through The Dark Matter 3. Spoonful (Willie Dixon) 4. Day of the Comet 5. Large Magellanic Cloud
Artwork by Brad Moore (who did the cover for Morpheus Descends’ “Ritual of Infinity” and a lot of other death metal classics). We chose this particular piece for its Bitches Brew/Abraxas vibe.
Includes the first UEMG track to feature vocals. A cover of Willie Dixon’s “Spoonful.” We aren’t doing the Cream version, we’re actually are doing the Howlin’ Wolf version from his first (and only) “psychedelic” record, 1969’s “The Howlin’ Wolf Album.” Wolf hated this album, but we love it! For the five people who remember my band Trash Titan, you’ll remember that I do croon a bit.
In addition to singing (which I’ve been doing live with UEMG for a while, as the mood strikes) I played upright bass and Fender Rhodes electric piano.
Will be limited to 500 CDs and 200 cassettes. These will debut at the merch table of DesertFest London and we will (at least initially) sell them exclusively on tour. Also, as it turns out, the EP will be available online at CD Baby (today, I’m told) as well as on the merch table in Europe. But once they’re gone, they’re gone. No reprints!
While it still rocks, there’s more of a late 60s/early 70s jazz fusion influence on this record, which can be heard on the long jams (side B of the cassette). Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew, Mahavishnu Orchestra, and “Sextant” era Herbie Hancock were some touchstones.
The cassette artwork is printed in blacklight sensitive ink. They’ll also be hand-numbered in blacklight sensitive ink. Includes a download code for people who don’t want to risk wearing it out in the tape deck of their ’86 Nissan.
We’ll also be bringing a small number of bootlegs for the merch table. We’ve got a buddy, Scrit, who tapes all of our shows. The sound quality is pretty great for field recordings. Eventually (by this summer), we hope to have a number of these bootlegs available for download through our website.
Which reminds me…fans, feel free to tape our shows! We try to play a different set every night, and we try to play the songs a little different each time.
We’ll also be doing some jamming with Sasquatch, and vice versa. These guys are our brothers from way back – shit, we share a drummer. Ed’s been playing with them and Keith’s been playing with us for years.
Tour Dates are below. We plan on making each show special in its own way, so fans should feel free to follow us around like we’re frickin’ Phish or something.
25.04.14 FRI UK London Desertfest 26.04.14 SAT GER Berlin Desertfest 27.04.14 SUN A Vienna Arena 28.04.14 MON GER Wiesbaden Schlachthof 29.04.14 TUE GER Munich Feierwerk 30.04.14 WED ITA Montecchio (VI) E20 Underground 01.05.14 THU ITA Milano Lo-Fi 02.05.14 FRI A Millstatt Bergwerk 03.05.14 SAT GER Hohenstein 15 Jahe Voice of Art 04.05.14 SUN GER Cologne Underground 05.05.14 MON GER Hamburg Markthalle 06.05.14 TUE GER Stuttgart Goldmarks 07.05.14 WED CH Pratteln Z7 08.05.14 THU BEL Leuven Sojo´s 09.05.14 FRI F Paris Glazart 10.05.14 SAT CH Winterthur Gaswerk
We hope to have some special guests joining us on stage at DesertFest Berlin. Who could it be? Ed has a lot of friends in the stoner rock music community, that’s all I’m gonna say.
Which reminds me, our next full length will feature some guest vocals. It’ll still be mostly instrumental, but we’re going to include some guest singers on a few tracks. Again, I can’t say who, but rest assured, if you’re reading this blog, you know who they are.
Posted in Reviews on March 4th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
As lead guitarist in Monster Magnet from 1993-2010, Ed Mundell contributed to some of the most essential American heavy psych and heavy rock put to tape. Exploratory albums like Superjudge and Dopes to Infinity led to the more straightforward and commercial Powertrip and God Says No, and while the band settled into that aesthetic, Mundell continued to show his affiliation with heavy psych and traditional classic rock ethics in The Atomic Bitchwax, a project he left after releasing two full-lengths and an EP upon relocating to California circa 2004. His tenure would continue for more than half a decade with Monster Magnet and the Bitchwax continued on and have thrived against the expectations of many in his absence, but Mundell began to explore a range of psychedelic jams in the years subsequent, beginning with a track contribution by an instrumental trio called The Formula to the High Volume compilation put out by High Times magazine in ’04. Gradually, this jammy impulse led to the formation of The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic, and toward the end of the last decade, the band began playing out here and there on the West Coast, low key. Shows were jams, basically, with Mundell joined by bassist Collyn McCoy (Trash Titan) and drummer Rick Ferrante (Sasquatch), but sooner or later an album was bound to happen, and when it finally did, Snail’s Matt Lynch stepped in to record at his Mysterious Mammal Studios.
The resulting self-titled full-length (released through the band’s own Orbit Unlimited imprint) is probably too layered with psychedelic effects, backwards guitar, Echoplex, and leads to completely represent The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic’s live show, but at the root of each of the album’s nine tracks is an organic sounding jam that’s simply been built upon. Commonalities exist on songs like “Hello to Oblivion” to early The Atomic Bitchwax, and perhaps that’s to McCoy and Ferrante’s credit as a versatile rhythm section as much as it is to Mundell, who leads with no shortage of twists and turns in his intricate riffing. They are, true to form, a powerful trio, and the album – instrumental but for an intro spoken by the writer Harlan Ellison that appears reprinted on the inside of the gatefold digi-liner – essentially works as a showcase for their chemistry, playing out with immersive, driving psychedelia over the course of just under 55 minutes. Sasquatch guitarist Keith Gibbs appears on second track “Exploration Team,” donating a solo in complement to Mundell, and flourishes of sitar and extra percussion appear on the Eastern-keyed “The Man with a Thousand Names,” but for a good portion of the album, it’s McCoy, Mundell and Ferrante on their own in outer-headspace, the backwards guitar and warm bass tone of intro cut “Unassigned Agent X-27” providing lead-in for “Exploration Team”’s winding riffs and immediately engaging fuzz. As with most of the material on the album, riffs feel plotted out beforehand – that is, for how well McCoy plays off Mundell’s guitar with bass fills, I don’t think he’s hearing this stuff for the first time as though it were made up on the spot in the studio – and changes are positioned well, guitars emerging, receding, making way for the bass and then coming forward again, but the underlying core is organic and working on a time-tested ethic of players in a room playing. Everything else is added around that central idea.
While that goes to deepen the actual listening experience, The UEMG’s Hendrixian jam-ready modus probably would’ve come through no matter what they put on top. Even as he takes an extended, soulful solo in “Get off My World!,” Mundell seems to leave room for the groove Ferrante and McCoy ride, and the result is one of the self-titled’s more engaging moments of laid back heavy psychedelia, produced crisply but not overly clean, and a distinguishing factor between The UEMG and Mundell’s work in his past outfits, the real character of the band emerging even as the track fades into “7000 Years through Time,” and the signature style of winding riffs is revived. Structured into two vinyl sides with cuts both just over 11:40 ending each one, The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic is well symmetrical as an album, whatever spontaneous characteristics it might present, and the band works ably within that sphere. Perhaps after so many years in Magnet, Mundell couldn’t help but give this record a sense of structure, even as comparably off the rails as it might seem on the surface with the difference of approach. Either way, it’s a stronger, richer listen for it, and with “7000 Years through Time” running into the extended “The Third Eye” to end the first half, their cosmic flow is well underway, only moving farther out into the far out with the longer jam, which starts out barn-burner fast, but eases into a slower groove toward the middle to rock a build near the end with some of McCoy’s best basslines of the album, holding the song together in its stillest moments and driving it forward toward the end at its most raucous.