1000mods, Super Van Vacation: The World Turns Orange

Fuzz abounds on the Billy Anderson-produced full-length debut by Greek trad stoner rockers 1000mods. The Chiliomodi four-piece made a splash late in 2009 with the well-riffed Liquid Sleep 7”, and they follow much the same course on the 10-track Super Van Vacation, nodding at desert rock while keeping a looseness in the material that speaks to a love of jamming. Released by SuiSound/Catch the Soap Productions, Super Van Vacation is long at 65 minutes, but mostly immersive, and 1000mods do well within the rigid parameters of genre they’ve set for themselves, launching the album with the nod-fodder groove of “Road to Burn” (a call-out to Roadburn, perhaps?), one of several extended cuts reaching well over the eight-minute mark. The Orange-amped guitars of Giannis and George are expectedly thick and lay down solid riffs throughout for drummer Labros and bassist/vocalist Dani to follow. Their choice of producer couldn’t have been better, as Anderson is among those who set the standard for recording this kind of music in the first place in his work with the Melvins, Sleep, Acid King and Weedeater (among others), and sure enough, the balance of sounds on Super Van Vacation is near perfect. Tones are dialed in thick and full, and Dani’s vocals cut through well but never dominate the guitars, which are clearly intended as the focus.

The groove of “Road to Burn” – or at least the delivery of the chorus – reminds a bit of Alabama Thunderpussy’s “6 Shooter” from 2000’s Constellation, and that’s one of several moments on Super Van Vacation where 1000mods make their influences explicitly known. Fourth track “Set You Free” seems to find its roots in a combination of Dozer and Astrosoniq, and the ringing guitar notes in the more subdued parts of “Vidage” seem to be calling out to the same sandy gods as did those of Elvis Deluxe’s “Take it Slow” from their stellar 2011 album, Favourite State of Mind. That’s doubtless coincidental and the result of a common Kyuss/Josh Homme influence in both bands, but worthy of note anyway, as it speaks to how much of Super Van Vacation is going to be immediately familiar to experienced heavy rock listeners. Ultimately, it works to 1000mods’ benefit, as it makes them seem like fans of the music they’re playing, and I’ll take nothing away from Dani’s bass runs, which are pushed to the fore of the mix in the second half of “Vidage” before the guitar solo kicks in. They’re a genre band, definitely, playing largely off the characteristics that have emerged over the past several years of stoner rock revivalism in Europe – the emphasis on jamming one finds in the second half of Super Van Vacation only speaks further to that – but damned if they don’t do it well on these tracks and earn their place at the head of the Greek stoner scene along with the stalwart likes of Nightstalker, who themselves lifted a great deal from Monster Magnet along the way.

Some of their shorter tracks find 1000mods showing capable songwriting chops, whatever influence they’re working under. The early “7 Flies” proves rocking and memorable in like proportion, and though neither “El Rollito” nor “Set You Free” reaches four minutes, they both prove to be high points of craft on Super Van Vacation. In contrast, the burlier later cut, “Johnys,” also relies on a relatively straightforward structure, but expands the formula, leaving room for a drawn out instrumental section at the end that devolves gradually to amp noise. More typical of Super Van Vacation’s back half is “Track Me,” which opens with Colour Haze-style krautrock guitar and moves more languidly through a linear structure in which Dani’s vocals take a backseat to the atmosphere. 1000mods prove equally adept at this modus as they did the prior-noted conciseness, but by the time the closing duo of “Abell” and the title-track arrive, it’s easy to be so lost in the haze of smoky riffs and solos that you miss out on some choice moments. One can’t blame George, Giannis, Dani and Labros for wanting to make the album full (I know if I was recording with Billy Anderson, I’d want to do as much material as time and money allowed), it’s just that by the time the admittedly righteous jam at the end of “Abell” comes around, I’m long since riffnotized (© 2011 The Obelisk) and I feel like I’m missing out when listening to the album all the way through in one sitting.

And it’s for that reason – specifically so the last couple tracks of Super Van Vacation can be fully appreciated – that I’d recommend those who are going to take the record on be prepared to do so in multiple sessions. The closer “Super Van Vacation” has a swaggering, stonerly vibe that’s well worth digging into for fans of the style, but with the 56-minute lead-in it gets from the prior nine songs, it’s easy to gloss over. That might speak to 1000mods needing some further development in their jamming ethic, something to make the material stand out more as the songs play out, but really, I think it comes down more to the sheer amount they chose to include more than anything lacking stylistically or in terms of songwriting. They’ve pretty much got stoner rock down, it just might take a few times through Super Van Vacation for listeners to fully realize it. For its utter lack of pretense and the Eurostoner homage it pays, 1000mods’ debut sets a positive course for the band to follow. There is growth yet to be undertaken, but the four-piece have their hearts and their amps in the right place and they know how to hone in on a serious groove. If you’ve got to start somewhere, that’s a better place than many.

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One Response to “1000mods, Super Van Vacation: The World Turns Orange”

  1. Gaia says:

    Looking forward to hearing this, but I do struggle with records that are too long, that as you say the final movements of the record just wash over you because it’s followed 50 minutes of prior music, then it’s wasted. I wonder the viability of saving some material and quickly follow an LP with an EP just to break down consumption and make it easier for the fan.

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