No Man’s Land – “Unprotected” (Anazitisi Records 2013, CD/LP)

Unprotected is the latest album from Athens, Greece based No Man’s Land, and is the follow-up to their 2010 released The Drowning Desert. The band are the quintet of Vassilis Bas Athanassisdes on guitars and vocals, Chris Silver Triantafillopolous on drums, Nick Petavrides on bass, George Pavlis on trumpet and fluegelhorn, and George Sirganides on flute, plus guests on percussion and cello.

Moribundo Part II opens the set and is a steady paced rocker with a very interesting combination of liquid psych guitar and melodic trumpet. Flute soon joins in, and overall the track is a nice flowing trippy instrumental with brief passionate chanting vocalizations, and I like the melodic yet jamming psych-jazz feel that the trumpet injects. The 13 minute Flame is next. There are vocals near the beginning and end, but this too is a mostly instrumental track. The drums lay down a tribal rhythmic pulse and the music has a bit of a Middle Eastern feel. We get more of the psych guitar, flute and trumpet that I enjoyed on Moribundo. And while the trumpet unavoidably adds a jazz flavor, this track is more overtly psychedelic, and the more I listen to this album the trumpet (and I guess fluegelhorn) not only fits in well but gives No Man’s Land a somewhat unique sound. Other treats are peppered along the route, like a lusciously intense cello solo, lysergic freeform tripped out segments, meditative soundscapes, and mood changes that keep the music interesting throughout. A Brave Face is similar but gets more aggressively rocking at times than the previous tracks. My favorite part is when the guitar is ripping away with a raw dirty rocking sound, and then the music turns on a dime, transitioning to a melodic floating section led by flute, and then slowly soloing guitar, followed by trumpet, which is revealing itself to be a No Man’s Land trademark. Once again there are vocals but this is really about the developing instrumental. At 4 minutes, Permian Vacation is the shortest track of the set and the most tightly composed, and during a flute-led segment it struck me as sounding like a psychedelic Jethro Tull. Unprotected In The World closes the album and has a 70’s Prog-Psych feel, though the No Man’s Land trademark sound keeps the music firmly in the present. And it’s got a really cool Bluesy section that is nothing like standard Blues. I also got the best sense of Vassilis’ talent as a singer on this song.

In summary, Unprotected is an impressive set of psychedelic rock that does an excellent job of creating melodic accessible music, yet takes a progressive rock approach to instrumental thematic development, whiling managing to retain a loose jamming quality. And I love the way these guy utilize the guitar, flute and trumpet. Recommended.

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Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

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