REVIEW: JESS AND THE ANCIENT ONES – “The Horse and Other Weird Tales”
Psychedelic rock has always been a trip. In fact, this is one genre of music that can be made ridiculously hard in terms of possibilities within the genre. There are so many layers and textures to be enjoyed irrespective of parts that appear simplistic or otherwise. Jess and the Ancient Ones are back with their newest offering ‘The Horse and Other Weird Tales’. This album is a tasty mix of occult-ish vibes, timeless psychedelic rock elements and some interesting concepts and lyrics.
The album is a really short album but it nonetheless has a lot in store for fans and new listeners alike. The album opens up with “Death Is The Doors”, which seems to work fine as an opening trck with a slow eerie start, literally “unlocking the door” as the song goes. The song quickly swings into a faster and pacey rhythm section led by some wonderful singing.
“Shining” is my favourite song off the album. This song has such a strong groove to it, one cant help but jive hard to it. The singing really brings together the melodic and rhythmic aspects of the song while maintaining its own uniqueness in the music. The fast runs between the bass, drums and keys creates a very tasty atmosphere while the guitars add more colour to all this. “You and Eyes” is a long track on this album. It revolves around subtle build ups in the music in between creating and releasing tension.
“Radio Aquarius” is when the album begins to layer stories within itself. The instrumental section plays a backdrop to a conversation about LSD. It is a pretty soothing arrangement. The song writing starts to layer itself a lot more in terms of story telling with “Return to Hallucinate”. This song has a strong retro vibe to begin. “(Here Comes) The Rainbow Mouth” displays some really good bass work that stands out from the rest of the texture rich rhythm section. The singing really can’t be ignored. It fits the music so well and the lyrics are articulated well.
“Anyway The Minds Flow” is another long song clocking at almost eight minutes. This song incorporates all the elements seen so far in the album. It starts off with a slow paced and trance like groove before opening itself to more variations. The phased drums add a really nice touch to parts of the song. The song proceeds to end with a nice strings section with rest of the instruments so far familiarised in the album. This song too has a layered story in it.
‘The Horse and Other Weird Tales’ is an interesting record. This record features some newer takes to songwriting within the genre while still being a little traditionalist. True to its psychedelic rock approach, the album sure sounds very different from most other genres of music without overdoing itself. The record is well balanced and nuanced. There is no reason to believe that this record isn’t inviting to be coupled with some out of world experiences. Perhaps the instrumental sections of the album could fill in a little more than they already are but that’s just personal preference. The production isn’t overly polished. There is a certain rawness to it and yet everything is heard so distinctly. The production brings out the signature sounds of each instrument, understanding how they contribute to the record in terms of rhythm, melody and by creating textures. The mix still gives the album a good vintage feel. The record is rich with groovy sections which can be really fun to dance to.
This record has a lot to offer but it does lack a lot more variations that it could have incorporated without losing the overall feel. I suppose the lyrics make up for that. The lyrics really bring out setting of good story telling. This wouldn’t have been possible without the fine singing that’s heard all over the album. Nevertheless, this album isn’t short of a good time.