There’s an undeniably deep – and perhaps unjustifiable – personal connection that we feel in regard to the music of Dead Sea Apes, the UK-dwelling, three-headed hydra of space-dub who’ve recently released their third and arguably finest full-length album to date, “Spectral Domain” (a co-release from Cardinal Fuzz and their stateside partners, Sunrise Ocean Bender).
It’s a connection that, frankly, probably has something to do with the use of the word “ape.” But there’s also something much, much deeper than that. Yet having now been listening to Dead Sea Apes rather intently and undoubtedly intensely for the better part of five years, it’s difficult to parse out exactly what it is that sets “Spectral Domain” apart from the Ape-scapes that preceded it. Indeed, this album stands up nicely as simply a multi-dimensional prism of their first album, the world-beating “Lupus,” reflecting related territories, now further refined, but with a sound that cascades even more broadly, powered by a more muscular sense of sonic sturm und drang. That Dead Sea Apes seem to be growing steadily “heavier” – in the most sacred, most inexpressible sense of the word – is a bit counter-intuitive. If the earliest Dead Sea Apes material was heavily indebted to the power of the almighty riff, “Spectral Domain” sees the band training their collective third-eye on the invisible twin-engines of tone and timbre.
The tonal transitions that build the band’s battered bridge between wondering and wandering are evident in every single minute of “Spectral Domain,” without a single lost or wasted moment.
The ten minutes-plus of “Universal Interrogator” set the tone for the album as a whole – deliberate, unhurried and unafraid to paint their shared canvas several shades darker than “nefarious.” It seems key that the first word on “Spectral Domain” references the universal, especially given that the Apes provide no context clues in the form of vocals. It seems that the true magic of “Spectral Domain” – and the true magick of Dead Sea Apes, historically – is the band’s ability to create from thin air a shared musical language between its three members. In their capable hands, this experience tracks as something several meaningful degrees apart from simply “jamming,” and towards a freedom to roam and explore that envelops the listener into an exercise in Gnosis.
Big-G “gnosis” is not a concept that lends itself to easy explanation; in fact, it may defy explanation by its very definition, as does the music of Dead Sea Apes in general, and “Spectral Domain” in particular. Hailing Dead Sea Apes’ unearthly dub-gnosticism is a tricky proposition, as it’s quite literally impossible for us to write something that your ears don’t instinctively know. Yet somewhere between Armageddon and salvation, somewhere amid the P.K. Dick-meets-King Tubby-in-space environs masterfully manifested on album-closer “Sixth Side of the Pentagon,” there’s a shared knowledge that awaits transmission, and it begins with the realization that there’s no band on earth heavier than Dead Sea Apes.
If the strength of “Spectral Domain” lies in the Professor X-level mind-meld that occurs between the band’s members, the debut release from Zeta One benefits from an equal-but-alternate approach to roaming gnosis, a singular and solitary version of cosmic exploration, with no lack of mutant flavor in its mass of way-out sounds.
“DreamSnake II” (out now from the incessantly awesome Eiderdown Records) is the work of one Dawn Aquarius, who formerly spent time in previous (and without a doubt, future) “Band of the Week” victims, Herbcraft. Consisting of ten tracks over a pulse-quickening and eye-opening thirty-six minutes, “Dreamsnake II” sheds its sonic skin and leaves behind an unforgettable, indescribable, synth-heavy cosmic ceremony of turbo-weird delights.
So, what does it sound like? It’s called “DreamSnake II,” it’s the creation of a woman named Dawn Aquarius, who used to be in Herbcraft, and it boasts song titles like “Face Humanoid,” “Mysteri-Atman” and “Ching Witch.” You do the math.
Or better yet, don’t do the math. Listen to Zeta One without expectations, your ears open to any and all interpretation. We knew nothing about “DreamSnake II” or its creator upon our first listen; we knew only that it was a new release Eiderdown Records, which, historically, is all we need to pique the interest of the apes.
What we found was a release positively over-flowing with crystal-visioned creativity. Ladies and gentleman, we are floating way, way, way out in space. On “Electroscopic,” Zeta One echoes with the type of intergalactic yearning that recalls Brightblack Morning Light. On “Gamma Draconis,” Zeta One delivers a miniature Faust-ian waltz, appropriate for dances on alternate galaxies or in altered states. On “WORGOZWEIL,” Zeta One rumbles like Suicide’s “Ghost Rider,” generating an image of Johnny Blaze’s flaming skull sending stacks of tarot cards alight and up in smoke.
Smoke ‘em if ya’ got ‘em. “DreamSnake II” spoke to us directly, immediately. Not a day has gone by since first listen that we haven’t incorporated “DreamSnake II” into our daily rotation, either early, early in the morning and late, late, late at night – and Zeta One fits both spots perfectly. We know exactly what Zeta One is saying, even though, much like Dead Sea Apes, we’d be hard-pressed to accurately translate what exactly is being said. Listen – can you hear it, too?
Dead Sea Apes‘ “Spectral Domain” is available now.
Zeta One’s “DreamSnake II” is available now, too.
“If we make a quick examination of our own mind, we can see the reason this kind of stability is so crucial. Although physics has observed light to be the fastest traveling phenomenon known to man, actually the speed at which our minds travel is even faster. We can circle the globe in a matter of seconds, and our minds generate doubts, emotions, and conceptual thoughts at a speed that defies that of all other phenomena. Because we lack basic mental stability, conceptual thoughts arise endlessly. So, if our goal is to realize the nature of mind, we first have to learn to still our minds, and free ourselves from distraction. The method for quieting the mind is called ‘meditative concentration.’ Once we have gained some initial mind stability, it is even more important that we continue our training so that this stability will increase. Without such stability, it is impossible for us to successfully learn to abide in the uncontrived view.”
Anyen Rinpoche, The Union of Dzogchen and Bodhichitta