Monday, 26 December 2016

Album Review... Atomic Simao - Echo

3 Years ago Kiev's Atomic Simao released 'Nōdo'; a brilliant Spacerock LP with a really heavy undercurrent of Stoner Blues and Psych.  The record was soaked in references and influenced by the genius of Jimi Hendrix, right the way down to its iconic "Hindu Hendrix" sleeve design. The band have been busy of late, with the recording of the follow-up 'Echo', as well as touring with revered artists Psychic TV and The Herbaliser.

Clearly a lot has happened to the band in 3 years.  The opening track 'Intro' smashes in like something from The Chemical Brothers 'Dig Your Own Hole'.  The distinct changes in instrumentation are apparent immediately.  Second track 'The Mask' is full full on Psych-funk; its raspy saxophone and synths prove that the band have worked hard at delivering something new.  This isn't a record they want you to sit still and listen to, they demand that you move!
'Around the Sun' is next.  It runs on a lead sax again, but this time showcases some of the brilliant guitar work, last heard on Nōdo; also noteworthy here is the outstanding drum work of Georgiy Valchuk, coming off like Nick Mason on speed.  The tempo's and techniques change constantly but retain a Floydesque feel.  'The Fox' has a very dancey, sixties feel to it.  The organ sounds show an Acid Jazz flavour and a different facade to the band, but remain absolutely within the spirit of this record.  'Liquid Shadows is a slower, deeper number rooted in Jazz and old spy movie soundtracks, once more lead by the raspy sax.  It can also be heard on the final track 'Space Veils'.  However this song itself, sounds much more like something from past releases.

Despite its very late December Release, I'll say right now that this is going to be one hell of an album to beat in 2017.  Atomic Simao may well continue to remain known as a psychedelic rock act; but they bring so much more now than with previous releases as the evolution of the band continues. 'Echo' shows a development in sound and style that should surely catapult them forward on to bigger stages and to wider audiences.  The use of saxophone as a lead instrument is a bold and brilliant move and through its various filters, dazzles in the ways a great vocalist should.  The band wear the influences from electronic big beat records and psychedelic rock with pride; it all feeds into an album with a massive sound. The heavier use of synths and some of the best drumming you'll hear on record for a long time, add up to an essential listen.  There's no doubt about it;  'Echo' is fucking special.

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