There’s a very specific cross-section of post-rock, stoner rock and progressive rock in which exist bands like The Samsara Blues Experiment or Tumbleweed Dealer. It’s a section of music which draws on mid-era Pink Floyd for much of its characteristics and overall vibe but further complicates the influence by going deeper, louder and fuzzier on the more “out there” segments while also infusing them with a healthy dose of fuzz. Paleons is a really good example of the type of groovy grandeur the style can accomplish and, this being their third release, have managed to break out of the mold the very specific style commands.
Hyperborean, released in February of this year, marks a great step forward for them. The album’s first pillar for this momentum is the shorter, more groovier tracks like opener “Moon Dragon”. These really on fuzzy guitar leads backed by robust bass, overall drawing the song structure from the more accessible and less cinematic elements of post-rock, like Tumbleweed Dealer mentioned above or In Each Hand A Cutlass. The tracks are varied enough to create a sense of direction and a unique style without shattering too many dimensions of what they’re expected to do.
However, the band also depart from this blueprint several times on the album, in two main ways. The first one involves diving a bit deeper into the doom influences replete throughout the album and blending them with a very space-y and far flung sound. “The Circle and Eternity” which immediately follows the opening track clocks in at more than twelve minutes and contains some of the most impressive moments of the album; its persistent and evocative bass lines and reoccuring themes, given plenty of time to reach fruition throughout its run-time, make it an excellent astral journey.
The other element, the third one if you’re counting, is what ties a bow around the whole thing. The previous two elements cited are excellent but they alone wouldn’t have been enough to life Hyperborean above the masses. What does that is the excellent use of brass instruments and strings, especially near the end of the album. Tracks like “The Tree of Pansophia” or “Andromeda, the Tomb of the Sun” have some really original and well recorded usage of both strings and horns, used both to add an more edge to the composition (in the case of the former) or to evoke longing and sorrow (as in the latter, although the horns near the middle are once again brilliantly used for edge and punch).
These three elements combined set Hyperborean is one of the best releases I’ve had the pleasure of listening to within this sub-genre. Take that together with great track names, compelling cover art and an overall sense of cohesion and purpose and you get yourself one hell of a release, both groovy, evocative and imaginative.