Not much more than three years ago we were introduced to the adventurous sounds and imagination of Italian rock band UPANISHAD through their debut album Crossroads. It was a release which soon had us eagerly sharing its originality and audacity within the site. Now the band has unveiled its successor, Reverse Reflection, and again we can say that intrigue and anticipation has been rewarded with another compelling and enjoyably unpredictable encounter to wax lyrical about.
Emerging at the beginning of 2000 in Florence, Upanishad was a group of fifteen year olds bringing a mix of punk and rock to their creativity. As its members grew and line-up changed so the band’s sound developed and evolved, from the outside maybe seeming a slow process but one which has seen the outfit intently explore and discover its true character of sound. A two year hiatus around 2010 only saw the band return bolder and stronger with the current line-up in place; original members in vocalist/guitarist Vanni Raul Bagaladi and drummer Lapo Zini joined by bassist Mirko Bazzocchi. That first album was unveiled in 2019 to sow the seeds of our fascination with the band, one now hungrily devouring Reverse Reflection.
The album is described as “a black and white journey through the human knowledge, though the very complexity and variety of cultures, through the past and the contemporary exploration of the inner world”, with songs ruminating upon “the mess in which we live and why we live in such a mess.” It is an adventure into a chaotic and unpredictable world which is more than echoed in the albums landscape of imagination and multi-flavoured sound. Musically Upanishad is mainly tagged as rock/crossover but that barely describes the varied webs and tapestries of styles and enterprise making up Reverse Reflection. Progressive and avant-garde in many ways, punk and noise rock in other aspects, the album is a brash and daring slab of rock ‘n’ roll across sixteen tracks which keep you guessing even between their own individual walls.
Love & Will kicks things off, the song making an unassuming entrance upon a lone bassline but with that lure soon wrapped in just as enticing guitar wires. It is a post punk hued entrance which broadens its temptation as riffs break and rhythms pounce becoming increasingly raucous yet with a defined design of enterprise and tempting. It makes for a riveting start to the release which The Cat Is In The Car continues with its rapacious exploits and grungy breath. It is almost pugilistic in its approach and certainly invasive in its intent but greedily compelling from start to finish.
Darker Side is a less forceful trespass but with its eddy of grooves and vocal dexterity upon skittish rhythms it is just as potent as its predecessor and the following Bad Name For A Dog which merges Muse like psych rock with menace suggesting rhythms with a subsequent reggae tinted infection to enrich the drama. As much as earlier songs had already drawn attention to the multi-flavoured breeding of their characters, the doorway to such rich and bold endeavour was swung fully open at this point with the introspective and haunting Day Dream keenly embracing the turn with its progressively shaped melodically fuzzy adventure which in turn leads to feral rock tempestuousness.
The run of following tracks epitomises the dexterous invention in the album and band’s sound, Magik! firstly swinging in with devilish intent and alt punk voracity. One of our majorly favourite songs within the album, it has a touch of Les Négresses Vertes to its greedily devoured untamed punk rock romp while the predominately instrumental Bubble Trap drew further on the world music aspects of the previous track for its own imagination stoking journey.
Another major fav came with Summoners, an arcane slice of swing and funk cast with occult like predation across a landscape of self-centred manipulation; a song greedily under the skin before the likes of the album’s title track, with its ethereal psych rock breath, and the clamour breeding Avant-funk spun Firedrops further sparked the imagination; the latter joining the rank of the loftiest peaks across the release.
Similarly, every minute of tracks such as The Lover with an At The Drive In like outcry, The Stranger and its animated carnival shenanigans, and The Swarm brought new addictive invention and almost lunatic enterprise. The third of the trio is another which had us drooling, it’s rapacious shuffle a courting of drama and mischief and like those around it never giving expectation a glimpse of reality.
The final tracks ensure the album closed as impressively as it began, The Truck hitting the road with its own predatory design and contagious menace with GoinOm wrapping the same enjoyably intimidated senses in melodic seduction and sinister implication. Together they set up the keenest attention for Time vs Einstein and final track’s untamed ravening, a tumult of noise and ferocity of dexterity, forging one last eruption of fresh sound and invention,
Together all sixteen tracks provide an adventure and trespass of sound like few others, a fierce, noisy and addictively virulent escapade of craft and imagination which has us on the side of greedy.
Reverse Reflection is out now via Red Cat Records; available @ https://upanishad.bandcamp.com/album/reverse-reflection
Pete RingMaster 01/04/2022
Copyright RingMaster Review