Its press release calls Crossroad, the debut album from Italian outfit Upanishad, “…a trip, an adventure, physical and dreamlike.” It has also been a journey for the band to reach the point of its release and a collection of ups and downs with experiences which have undoubtedly gone into one fascinating, captivating, and refreshingly imaginative encounter.
Hailing from Florence, Upanishad began in 2000 and quickly began breeding their own unique sound from a blend of rock, punk and indie flavours. The following decade saw a first EP which sparked attention and opportunities, departures and additions to the band’s line-up, and live success leading to greater moments and chances. The departure of members in 2010 as the band prepared work on a first album saw Upanishad go on hiatus for a couple of years before two of its founders in vocalist/guitarist Vanni Raul Bagaladi and drummer Lapo Zini resurrected the project; bringing in bassist Mirko Bazzocchi to complete the band’s line-up. Quickly writing new songs, the band found, whilst still embracing those earlier hues that their sound was quickly embracing a new and richer as well as broader flavoured character with bold imagination aligned to technical adventure. It is a mix now making their debut full-length one truly fascinating proposal and one which just seems to grow in ears and appetite by the play.
Crossroad opens up with Look At You and instantly had attention on board as the bass of Bazzocchi alone lays down enough intrigue carrying bait to hook any appetite. A sonic swirl gathers in the background as it beckons, eventually sparking a further melodic enticement through the guitar of Bagaladi whose vocals I turn make swift company to the already magnetic incitement. Though slim in body it is a union thick in spicing and tempting which revels in the web of hues making up increasingly and creatively agitated not forgetting irresistible rock ‘n’ roll.
This Room follows and instantly hits its own alluring stroll with unpredictability oozing from every pore, a proposal gaining momentum by the second as the song grows, twists and reveals its mischievous invention. Like a fusion of T-Rex, Pere Ubu, and Mucho Tapioca as psychedelic and progressive imagination collude in rock ambition, the track is a voracious cosmopolitan sounding adventure exploring fresh skies and earths simultaneously.
Quickly establishing itself as one of the album’s truly tantalising moments it is quickly matched by the daring rock ‘n’ roll of Feelings. The band’s latest single, the track launches through ears on gnarly riffs entwined in Red Hot Chili Peppers like funk infused devilry, grooves and hooks spared lusty tenacity across its virulent swing and flirtatious stroll. Again there is a mercurial bent to its boldness, every breath and mania gaining turn soaked in unpredictability and resulting pleasure before Side Effects leads the listener into sultry surf washed climate of sound and atmospheric intimation. The throaty tone of bass ensures a great earthy connection to the loftier exploration as essences reminding of bands such as System Of A Down and 6:33 add to the acceleration of wit, vision and pleasure.
The thought tantalising instrumental Spikes Trap brings its own shadows and mystery to bear next, the technical dexterity of the trio quickly establishing a mental picture for the imagination to conjure with before Connected envelops the senses in its fuzzy sonic smog and melodically fired threads. Though not a track which inflamed as fully as its predecessors, it made for a potent addition to the album’s persuasion which its title track emulated in its sepia coloured storm embraced acoustic serenade.
Across the seductive ears smooching inducement of Parasite and the haunting almost sinister atmospherics of Clouds enthralment with Crossroad was only further cemented; the first of the two alone a lively croon of inventive virulence and emotive attraction impossible to say no to and another peak to the album.
Through the contagion lined canter of The River, a track with a great whisper of XTC to its melodic breath and inventive suggestiveness, album and band unveiled yet another aspect to their sound and quest before leaving No Way Out to close things up. Its opening tease is eighties post punk nurtured, subsequent melodic and harmonic dissonance post rock toned with both flavours embroiled in greater adventure as the song swells with creative initiative and impassioned intensity.
It is a riveting end to an equally engrossing release; a true slab of originality and audacity. Whether Crossroad will take Upanishad to the attention of the biggest and numerous spotlights it deserves to tempt it is impossible to predict but it is easy to say that it is an album which will leave a lasting imprint and joy in those taking the plunge.
Crossroad is available now via Red Cat Records across most online stores.
Pete RingMaster 21/03/2019
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