Like some boat gently idling down a river, there’s change and movement for sure, but you won’t notice anything whilst you’re experiencing the trip. And damned fine it is too.
So, what do we have here, with the new Retribution Gospel Choir album? Well, we get two tracks, both a good 20 minutes in duration. Not a lot happens in terms of chord progressions or melody lines or anything energetic like that: frankly not a lot needs to happen because what we have to listen to is pretty damned fine. It should come as no surprise that Retribution Gospel Choir make minimal stoner rock par excellence, the music playing to obvious musical strengths, vast experience and some strong personalities. And anyway, who the hell needs to seek to impress when you can (on the evidence of the noise created) have such a good time as this?
So, we get two tracks. The opener, Can’t Walk Out, sluggishly starts to show signs of life after a minute or so, Alan Sparhawk’s guitar notes that (of course) pick this track out of the ordinary - sounding like a hyper charged, pedal hungry take of Steve Lovell’s playing on Julian Cope’s debut solo LP; chiming and clanging in a manner that is very, very pleasing indeed. This righteous pealing is backed against a fuzzy, sludgy riff so thick and rich you could cut it up and serve it to a bunch of starving inmates in a Victorian workhouse. We get a desultory beat and some vocals too, though the latter are more like incantations to a mood than anything else. Things break up and start again, dissolving whenever the mood strikes in a miasma of hiss and growls and bleached white noise. The second track, Seven, (the band joined by Nels Cline) is a softer, more harmonious affair: we have a nice vocal line which exhorts us to “look your shadow” alongside a nice tapestry of fuzzy, blurry guitar patterns that dovetail to good effect, gently bearing the melody aloft. And really, for a good twenty minutes that’s it apart from some variations on a theme from the guitars. Despite the odd lick ascending ever upwards, nothing really changes. Like some boat gently idling down a river, there’s change and movement for sure, but you won’t notice anything whilst you’re experiencing the trip. And damned fine it is too.
Really worth checking out.