I still remember the first time I played Fuck the Sun, Stone From the Sky‘s previous album (yes, that’s actually what it’s called). What I don’t quite remember is what I was expecting but it wasn’t an expansive, droned out, psychedelic walk through sunlit hills, nature in bloom all around me. When I came to listen to Break a Leg, the French group’s latest excursion, I was a bit more prepared; I knew to expect stoner rock with a tinge of desert to it, 70’s psychedelia swimming right alongside post rock. I expected the album to put me at ease and let my mind wander, soaking me in its rich soundscapes and tones.
Lo and behold, I got exactly what I was expecting and then some; Break a Leg sees Stone From the Sky iterate on their successful style from the previous release, conjuring up a kind of luxurious take on instrumental stoner rock that’s hard to resist. Break a Leg however leans in harder on the groove and the heavy, breaking forth more moments of crescendo and heavier crescendos at that. This makes it an album with more contrast than Fuck the Sun, perhaps allowing for even more richness to shine through the melodies.
Take “Therapsida” for example, the third track. Most of the moments on the track are as described above; the bass draws lazy circles around the guitars, with the drums faintly laying out a beat that lulls the listener into a kind of daydream you can only have with the sun full in your face, preferably mediated by a couple of tree tops. But the “choruses”, if such a word is even relevant to this instrumental style of composition, is way heavier. The guitar tone is thick and redolent, with the bass backing it up with punch and verve while the cymbals crash all around. After a few repetitions of this structure, a variation is introduced, extending one of the choruses into a longer climax.
But right after that climax, the track goes back to subtle, chilled out vibes, with the bass now expanding on its earlier roles in the track and the guitars joining suit. The transitions are effortless, creating that contrast we spoke about above; you’re always in this mood of slowly rocking back and forth to the beat but sometimes that beat is heavy and other times it’s light. Whatever Stone From the Sky are doing, they’re always groovy, somehow lending the same weight of delivery to their mellow and more energetic segments to an equal degree.
Another good example of how the heavier moments bring out the best in Stone From the Sky can be heard on “Atomic Valley”, the first track released from the album. After an extensive build up (make sure you pay close attention to the awesome games the drums play during this buildup), the majority of the track, “Atomic Valley” crashes onto the listener during its final moments with massive instrumentation. This makes both the build up and the last track that comes after it shine in contrast, their trippy melodies all the more special for bookending such explosive moments. This is the album in a nutshell then; just like “Therapsida” (and the rest of the tracks on it) Break a Leg is a step forward for Stone From the Sky, seeing them ramp up the volume to eleven while still keeping their eye on the mellow, tripped out ball that is the core of their sound.
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Stone From the Sky’s Break a Leg releases on May 3rd. Listen to the first track from it above and then pre-order it. Remember to support independent bands!