I’ve long been familiar with Austin, Texas based My Education (who include ST 37 member Scott Telles). Theta Naught are a Salt Lake City based band who are new to me, though I see that they have collaborated with My Education on a previous album. Sound Mass II: Spiritual Docking is their new album and includes quite an array of instruments, including guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, viola, cello, vibraphone, pedal steel guitar, trumpet, and tapes.
The first three tracks play like parts of one larger piece, consisting of orchestral Drone-Psych-Prog. Viola handles the initial simple, repetitive, yet catchy main melody. The guitar shimmers, bubbles and wails in space and the pedal steel injects a trippy element of its own. The music gets increasingly intense as each track progresses, taking on a densely majestic feel, and sounding like a spaced out orchestrated Krautrock-Prog cross between The Spacious Mind, Pink Floyd and old Shadowfax. I love how each instrument seems to occupy its own singular world, while coming together for a cohesive full band sound. The drumming is thunderous, elevating the musical drama to Magma-like proportions. bAmF starts off less melodramatic and even a bit dreamy, with guitar that reminds me even more of The Spacious Mind. But when it explodes it’s like an acid-orchestral teeter totter balance between deep space Psychedelia and cinematic stateliness. Sammy’s Sounds, Saturday Night is considerably mellower, though no less majestic, with hypnotically dreamy pedal steel and viola, and along with the groove it brings to mind a Space-Psych take on the instrumental segment of Layla (yeah, THAT Layla!). As the title suggests, Dingerland cranks out a Neu!-ish Motorik vibe, though with a high intensity, spaced out Psychedelic kick and a monster rockin’ finale. Finally, End Masse is a heavy rocker that reminds me of a cross between mid-late 90s Circle and Korai Orom, with its powerhouse drumming and percussion that sometimes takes on a Latin feel. Overall this is a smokin’ set that blends Space Rock, Psychedelia and Prog Rock into something both familiar and different.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz