Jess & The Ancient Ones – Second Psychedelic Coming: The Aquarius Tapes

Photo_ Jarkko Pietarinen

Photo_ Jarkko Pietarinen

After an impressive introduction through their self-titled debut album back in 2012, there is always a potent twinge of excitement when whispers and news of something new from Finnish psychedelic rockers Jess & The Ancient Ones comes forward. It happened with their impressive occult surf metal EP Astral Sabbat in 2013 and again now with second full-length Second Psychedelic Coming: The Aquarius Tapes. It is fair to say though that as keen the anticipation it was not really expecting the full majesty and fascination which envelops ears from the band’s latest triumph. Spreading open psychedelic inspirations bred from the late sixties/seventies, Jess & The Ancient Ones boldly embrace a host of other ripe styles and rich flavours too, creating one of the year’s most breath-taking offerings in the process.

Formed in 2010 as a septet, the band has slimmed by one over recent times and broadened their sound to weave in as suggested earlier, a new kaleidoscope of distinct styles. There is also less of the occultist intensity found in the new album’s predecessor as a more earthly magical theming seems to fuel the lyrical exploration of Second Psychedelic Coming. The new album is certainly as raw and seductive as anything before, the creative heart of the band unashamedly honest and unworried about sounding overly polished as again ears are provided with a gritty and organic character to the encounter and the instinctive way that the Kuopio sextet grip ears and incite the imagination. With the striking new aspects and imagination to the band’s sound though, it all unites in either fiery roars or invasive serenade of sound, most songs a collusion of both and more.

artwork_RingMaster Review     It is fair to say that within seconds band and album had its first inescapable claw into the passions through opener Samhain. Moving in on ears via the potent rhythmic stroll cast by Yussuf, attention is grabbed and appetite sparked, especially as a provocative sample makes a lead for a web of surf bred guitars and sultry keys to offer the next mighty lure of the song. It is instant persuasion, especially once virulent hooks step from that smouldering hug, they in turn sparking unbridled infectiousness in energy and tone emphasized by the caped crusader like groove flirting at the heart of it all. The distinctive and ever compelling voice of Jess is soon in the midst of the thick tempting of course, wrapped alluringly in the guitar enterprise of Thomas Corpse and Thomas Fiend as a mischievous bass canter sculpted by Fast Jake and the flowing suggestiveness of Abraham’s keys bring more creative tonic for the imagination to work with. Quite simply the album gets off to a glorious and irresistible start, offering a joyful pagan and dramatic celebration to get lusty with.

The Flying Man steps up next, it too an immediate contagion of tenacious rhythms alongside a tantalising sonic weave. Soon the track shares a bluesy breeze in air and melodies as its body exudes folkish/Celtic hues, whispers of Jethro Tull/Horslips teasing throughout the pungent smog of evocative and sonic heat. The undiluted fascination conjured continues with In Levitating Secret Dreams, it also entwining surf and psychedelic invention with enthralling imagination. As the first track, the song has a keen catchiness which quickly has body and appetite enlisted in its adventure, that success the springboard for warm harmonies to surround Jess’ vocal bellow but equally a maze of classic and blues rock resourcefulness through the guitars, which with the inflamed theatre of the keys and of course vocals, takes the listener into a uniqueness of creative splendour.

The addictive invention of the album never misses a beat or a moment to grip attention through the rhythmic slavery perpetually sculpted by bass and drums, another of its variations setting the tone and potent entrance of The Equinox Death Trip. With keys carrying a great Dave Greenfield of The Stranglers colour to their psych rock imagination, the track blazes away in ears and emotions. Jess powerfully leads the fire as things feverishly rumble and sizzle on the senses in another major highlight in nothing but across the album, though its mighty presence is still eclipsed by that of Wolves Inside My Head. The track is a beast, flexing its energy loaded and creatively provocative muscles from its first breath but just as swiftly exploring an eventful tapestry of keen hooks, spicy blues mystique, and melodically incendiary flirtation, all matched in kind by bass and drums. Again samples are a strong additive, though it is the wonderful vaudevillian air to song and backing vocals that add the most irresistible glaze. A whiff of delta blues also spices the encounter but comes much more pronounced and tempting within the following Crossroad Lightning. A climatic croon with tempestuously restrained sounds, the song is pure bewitchment with a healthy glow of My Baby to its shamanic and melodic sultriness.

Through the blues infested psych funk of The Lovers and the jazz spiced psych theatre of Goetia of Love, ears and pleasure are full, each presenting an inimitable shadow kissed carnival of diverse sound and a temptation as nostalgic as it is incessantly fresh. The latter of the two is a real siren of enterprise and evocative brilliance leading the listener into the epic affair of Goodbye To Virgin Grounds Forever. At twenty minutes plus, the closer is a flight of perpetual evolution and imagination in its own right. Classical and melancholic flavours collude with voracious and contagion carrying exploits, they just a few of the aspects sculpting the ever changing canvas and experimentation of the spellbinding proposal. From voice to rhythm, individual craft to combined melodic seduction; the track is an unpredictable and increasingly magnetic journey which alone ensures Second Psychedelic Coming has to be declared one of the must investigations of 2015.

The potential and triumph of the first Jess & The Ancient Ones album led expectations of bigger and bolder things from Second Psychedelic Coming: The Aquarius Tapes. It lets no one down!

Second Psychedelic Coming: The Aquarius Tapes is out now via Svart Records and @ https://jessandtheancientones.bandcamp.com/album/second-psychedelic-coming-the-aquarius-tapes

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Pete RingMaster 07/12/2015

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One comment on “Jess & The Ancient Ones – Second Psychedelic Coming: The Aquarius Tapes

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