Colour Haze – “To The Highest Gods We Know” (Elektrohasch Records 2015, CD/LP)

Colour Haze are a long lived German guitar/bass/drums trio headed up by guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek, who also runs the excellent Elektrohasch Records label. Koglek’s guitar is THE sound of Colour Haze. It has a distinctive feel that is hard rocking grungy stoned and bubbly Psychedelic, yet is always beautifully and lyrically melodic. Koglek also sings, but when Colour Haze are jamming it’s the guitar that is typically making the SONG.

The album opens with Circles, which is trademark jamming and grooving Psych rocking Colour Haze. Paradise is a short tune with a chunky funky and cool dirty Grunge-Psych rocking groove. Nice soulful vocals too. Uberall opens with a couple minutes of lightly jamming guitar, and then the rhythm section kicks in to lay down a steadily rocking groove as the guitar gets increasingly aggressive, but still expressively tuneful. I like the trippy jamming guitar over a grungy drone on Call, which includes a barely perceptible Hammond organ wailing lightly underneath.

And then the band go off into left field on the nearly 12 minute title track. It opens with Spanish styled acoustic guitar and a high pitched, noisy squall, which must be the strings I see in the credits. As the guitar speeds up the strings become less noisy and more like a dissonant, orchestral drone. Near the 4 minute mark the theme shifts to an intense combination of chamber ensemble and Middle Eastern vibe, which in some ways recalls the spirit of Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir. Colour Haze are traveling in much more experimental directions here, like some kind of high intensity Psychedelic chamber rock ensemble. Finally, the uncredited Last Call is a brief, dreamy vocals and organ coda that brings the album to a close.

The title track really took me by surprise. It’s quite different and after spinning it several times I think the band took the music in very interesting directions. And I was relieved to hear something so different because as much as I enjoyed the other tracks I felt they were far too trademark Colour Haze. In short, I feel like I’ve heard these songs before. The challenge for the band is to retain their identity while widening their horizons and exploring new territory. To The Highest Gods We Know is a good start.

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Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

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