Words: Alasdair Belling
It’s a common complaint that there is just too much music around at our fingertips today. It’s never been easier to just skip through song after song, artist after artist, churning through hundreds of mediocre (you think) acts at the flick of a button.
While indeed the sub-standard stuff has never been easier to unwittingly find, so to have the diamonds in the rough never been so vulnerable to short attention spans. Blink and you might not realise what magic sits in front of you- such as, for example, the collection of tracks that Canadian psych/funk/world/ prog outfit Dizzy Mystics have served up on their mind-boggling debut Wanderlost.
From the opening of Letter #1 it’s clear that there’s nothing like this kicking around at the moment. Taking cues (I think) from eastern folk music, mixing them in with funky bass lines and choppy-as-hell drum parts, on the surface things are an artful mess. Then, however, the chorus Fallasophy kicks in (with one hell of a feel change) and you realise that with these beautiful melodics and wacky instrumentation, you have the rulebook in tatters.
Often there seems to be a desire to produce the most ‘hardcore’ renditions of a style possible, for it to truly break new, uncharted waters (CC. Braindrill). What tracks like the aforementioned Fallasophy achieve is the perfect fusion of this technical prowess with tracks that don’t feel to hard to chew. The rhythms are intense but the melodies beautiful, the structures a tad overwhelming but the song lengths (for the better part) avoid draining the listener.
However, rarely will a debut LP knock things out of the park on a first swing, and truthfully there are times where the Mystics flirt with self-implosion at the expense of instrumental wizardry. The record’s title track, a whopping 11 minute closer, moves through every soundscape one can imagine with bi-polar-like suddenness, one-minute cool jazz fusion, one-minute thrashy psych rock. Cool in theory, but as the title suggests, not even a map will help the most trained purist navigate this cut.
Likewise, Diamond Duller also lives up to its name, marching along at a pace that doesn’t possess the same infectious enthusiasm of avant-garde dance floor starters Shindigjig or the digestible but still wildly funky The Frequent See, Consistent Seas’. Experimentation is clearly the order of the day here, but there’s no sense in trying something new if there isn’t the risk that it’s going to flunk from time to time.
While there are these rare blips on the radar, they don’t take away from the sheer sonic breadth that the band achieves on Wanderlost. Every song features its fair share of shredding guitars and polyrhythmic madness, but the hints of folk music, psychedelic rock and funk are never far from the peripherals. 12 Foot Ninja might have done most of these combinations before, but when you’re mishmashing this many things together you’re never going to get the same product twice- and it serves the Mystics well.
Minor hurdles shouldn’t detract from a thoroughly excellent flight through a new weird and wacky world full of colour and shape. With cuts like The Anti-Dream serving as a hip-shaking call to arms for all the alt. metal short wearers in the world sitting so perfectly alongside acoustic shred-fest Rester (Analogue Chameleon), there’s little to criticise here. Heck, that might be because we’re still wrapping our heads around what the hell is going on. A journey you won’t soon forget.