Kandodo/McBain - Lost Chants/Last Chance

by Sean Hewson Rating:10 Release Date:2016-09-23

Lost Chants/Last Chance by Kandodo/McBain has sneaked out without much fanfare but it really is the mother lode as far as fans of the psychedelic freak-out are concerned. Here are five trips through the desert with John McBain the guitarist on Monster Magnet's finest record (Tab) along with three members of Bristol's The Heads, two of whom are also in Loop, who I like to describe as 'our Beatles'. These guys know their onions. On top of that, John McBain has also remixed the album at 33rpm so you get two totally separate albums, both taken from the same source material, at no extra cost.

The 45rpm and 33rpm versions of the album come together as a double album but they are different. The 33rpm album is a stand-alone album, the fact that it has been slowed down is only really detectable from the sound of the drums. McBain has done a terrific job in re-shaping these songs into a kind of Ambient, Psychedelic Doom, but a Doom that has enough light and shade to be enjoyed with the headphones on whilst lying in the sunny patch on the carpet. It really is an impressive piece of work, up there with Teo Macero and Holger Czukay, save for the fact that modern technology makes this kind of wizardry a bit less time consuming. I could have reviewed both these albums as one but I really wanted to review the 45rpm album (the 'proper' album, if you will) alone as it is The Big Fella. For those of you suffering from Freak-Out Fatigue after five or six years of extended guitar and keyboard jams from countless Psychedelic bands across the world, this album will get you chattering like an over-stimulated Julian Cope again. Four absolute masters of the form playing with taste and focus. The fact that there are five tracks instead of just two side-long snoredowns proves that this stuff has been thought out for longer than it takes to skin up. It transpires that this was necessary because Simon Price, Wayne Maskell and Hugo Morgan of Kandodo are based in the UK, whilst John McBain lives in the US so Lost Chants/Last Chance is the result of a lot of emailing. Thankfully, this is in no way detectable on the album.

Album opener, Blowed Out, slowly introduces itself with a You Are My Sunshine guitar figure before the rhythm section of Maskell and Morgan kick in. The big surprise, given that there are two fantastic guitarists in the band, is the addition of some lovely Tangerine Dream keyboards all over this album. I'm not sure who's taking which guitar solos but it's all Hunter S. Thompson stuff (“We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the drugs began to take hold.”). The guitar sounds are also so right that you welcome each riff as an old friend. Holy Syke starts out as a relaxed groove, led by Wayne Maskell on drums but one that occasionally breaks into something more raging. Again, the Tangerine Dream chords that hang just in the background really give the sound a whole other dimension. It's this that makes each song seem like a road trip. Megladon't starts with a combination of wah-wah and what sounds like a Xylophone or Vibraphone playing part of Syd Barrett's Golden Hair, before a cutting Michael Karoli-like guitar picks up the riff. Chant Of The Ever Circling (Last Vulture) introduces some delay on both guitars. This is more of a one-chord affair after the chord progressions of the previous three songs. With Morgan and Maskell respectively thumping and rumbling away in the background it's a chance for McBain and Price to cut loose, which they do for 13 wonderful minutes, occasionally returning to base for a Neu!-like vamp whilst noise swirls around like Hawkwind. The album is closed by Pelagic Blue Haze, another long one-chord song that eases itself into view with the ever-dependable Maskell and Morgan laying down a solid foundation as Price and McBain start swirling and probing again. The sound is totally immersive. Kandodo/McBain's approach is different to a lot of recent Psychedelic music. It is more tasteful but also more cautious. Morgan and Maskell are always there for Price and McBain to return to (much as Mo Tucker saw her role in The Velvet Underground) and Price and McBain never rudely stomp all over a song, they feel their way with great restraint before they cut loose.

Lost Chants-Last Chance is big for me as I had become a little jaded. There is a lot of excellent Psychedelic music around but I felt that something needed to come along to freshen it all up a bit. A band that really understands how this music is put together and how and why it works. To me, Kandodo/McBain are like what Pink Floyd could have been if Gilmour and Waters weren't so dull. Lost Chants-Last Chance is what you actually want to hear coming out of the TV when you watch Live At Pompeii. As a piece of work Lost Chants-Last Chance does everything that I want and more. For this reason and also for the sheer generosity of taking the time to remix the whole album to create a stand-alone second album at no extra cost I award this album 10.

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