Grey Mouse – “Trip” (BRP Records 2013, CD)

Grey Mouse are a Russian sextet who utilize vocals, guitar, bass, drums, percussion, sitar, didjeridoo, and jaw harp to play music rooted in 70s hard psych rock, but also includes trippy Indian/Middle Eastern influences. I had heard one track from the band a couple years ago on the Trail Records Psychedelic World Music compilation. Trip is their third album, and though it lists 10 tracks on the back of the CD, when I popped it in I noticed there is only one long track, which I’m guessing is to emphasize the “trip” aspect of the album. And sure enough, while each of the ten tracks is discernable from one another, the CD does indeed flow like one large piece.

This is a very cool album. On the one hand, we’ve got 70s hard psych rock and Middle Eastern infused psychedelia, but there’s also a theatrical aspect to Grey Mouse, and I wasn’t surprised to read in the promo sheet that in collaboration with the Moscow Film Club they have performed live soundtracks to early 20th century silent films. Didge, harmonica and percussion are put to good use in the intense introductory minutes with dark, droning, harsh, cavernous noise and howls. Then a solo harmonica plays away like some cowboy on the prairie, which quickly shifts as bass, drums and vocals join in to create an avant-theatrical setting. After a couple of angry vocal outbursts the band launch into a heavy psych rocker that only lasts a moment before receding back into the avant-theatrical noodling, and back and forth we go. The band rocks hard with a bit of a stoned edge, and I really dig the bass, which has an almost Zheul-like feel, and the harmonica injects a cool dirty Blues. White Noise Radio kicks off with trippy vocal chanting and jaw harp, before firing off a deeply intense stoned Sabbath inspired rocker. But after a few minutes the music take a turn and we’re in ominous and ever-changing theatrical prog-psych territory, with Victoria Barsukova alternating between singing and spoken word narrative. Chunikhin Kirill is a damn good drummer and I credit him for much of the dramatic impact on this piece. Other highlights include Ultima Thule, which features trippy sitar and electric guitar, with Victoria’s previously hard rocking Blues inflected vocals taking on a sultry siren of the harem quality. I like how the music alternates between psychedelically mind-bending and stoned intense rocking, and even when Grey Mouse are rocking hard the sitar is still tripping along in the background. I love the finale, which is melodic and grooving, but then slings into a heavy majestic psych rocker with killer guitar and sitar solos. Lullaby begins with spacey Blues guitar and droning didge and Victoria doing a brief narrative. Then we switch to whimsically paced rhythms, before settling into a stoned grooving and highly intense rocker with more cool psych guitar solos, and finally coming in for a Bluesy ambient atmospheric landing. Threat is a potent stoned rock ‘n’ roller with a theatrical edge. And it’s a shock when all of a sudden we do a 180 degree turn to the track Snow (Spiral Walk), which is another excellent combination of electric guitar and sitar, as the band alternate between, and combine seductive, trippy psychedelia and hard edged 70s influenced monster psych rock. And I love how even when the band are in their most potent hard rocking mode the sitar is still jamming along. Man, that guitar and sitar sound so cool together! The remainder of the album consists of more cool grooving stoned and trippy rock and stoned hard psych rock, some with a theatrical progressive edge, and finally the trip ends peacefully with a didge and chanting vocal finale.

In summary, I really enjoyed this album. Grey Mouse do a fine job of taking varied psychedelic and hard rock influences from the 70s and bringing it all together into a thoughtfully thematic and often highly dramatic whole.

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Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

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