22 Aug 2014

Terrascope reviews Lay Llamas album 'Ostro'


Like many bands in the burgeoning neo-psychedelic scene, Italy’s Lay Llamas trade on repetition and comparatively few notes. However while many of their contemporaries take the Loop/Spacemen 3 route of two chord drone as their template, Lay Llamas draw on more myriad influences as befits a band who can boast stable mates of the quality and inventiveness of Goat, Gnod and Teeth and the Sea. These include obvious nods to World music in the shape of Goat-style Afro-beat as well as embracing a more math-rock dance vibe of the Suuns variety.

A constant factor from the opening tribal stomp of Ancient People of the Stars” is a thoroughly simple yet stunningly effective series of bass lines which underpin most of what is to follow. “We Are You” develops the shamanic ghost-dance-by-campfire aatmosphere as the rhythm section and techno-synthesis coalesce to offer up spaced out loops and grooves aplenty. Nowhere is the bass better executed than on “Desert of Lost Souls”, the rest of the instrumentation floating around it as if in a cavernous void while the vocals insinuate themselves from a box room in next door’s attic (assuming that the attic is in another dimension). “Archaic Revival”, wherein a creaky intro bubbles into a hypnotic and quite compelling beat is quite simply one of the best things here, while “Something Wrong” in which ambient drone gives way to lysergic Afro-funk and the delicious Afro-Asian cosmic dub of “In Search of Plants” also hit the spot.

In sticking a monster jet pack under often tired sounding space rock, Ostro succeeds in re-launching it deep into the outer galaxies while at the same time bringing the genre slap bang up to date for the second decade of the 21st century (hey, I’ve checked and that’s where I think we are). Together with the rest of the formidable Rocket roster and the aforementioned Suuns, Lay Llamas are due to play the Liverpool Festival of Psychedelia this September. On this evidence it is a proposition that is likely to prove mouth-wateringly difficult to resist. (Ian Fraser)

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