The Band Whose Name Is A Symbol - 3 X LP BOX SET - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

The Band Whose Name Is A Symbol - 3 X LP BOX SET

by Andy Brown Rating:7 Release Date:2016-07-08

Hidden away on super limited releases, it’s easy to see why The Band Whose Name is a Symbol may have failed to capture the attention of even the most committed psych-rock enthusiast. Most of the Canadian group’s albums (they’ve released about 9 in all I think) have been given a limited run, usually consisting of 100 vinyl-only copies.

Now, while this boxset doesn’t exactly buck that trend (148 copies worldwide) it does at least give the rest of us a fighting chance. The two hours of instrumental psych-rock that make up the three albums presented here are more than worthy of your hard earned cash too.

Our journey begins with 2010’s TBWNIS Vs. The Purveyors of Conspicuous Authenticity. The lengthy, improvisational jams bring to mind the first couple of Desert Sessions albums and it’s that same free-spirited approach that runs through these 5 tracks. Recorded in one take the album is best consumed whole, a 45 minute trip into the bands hypnotic universe.

Each song relentlessly builds to a satisfyingly fuzzy, Hawkwind-meets-The Stooges type freak-out while the albums crowning glory is arguably the 17 minutes of head-fuckery that make up ‘West Nile Curiosity’. Combining the bands particularly raw take on psychedelia with strong undercurrents of Krautrock, the album is an uncompromising psych-rock behemoth.  

We skip forward to 2013 for Scrappy Little Jaw. Opening with the pulsating beats of ‘Berlin’ the band immediately bring the motorik joys of Neu and Cluster to mind, with some chugging rock riff-age thrown into the mix for good measure. The band effortlessly combines their clear appreciation of those 70’s experimental pioneers with the modern psych sensibilities of White Hills and Mugstar.

Take the excellent ‘New Sudan’, a track that revels in both the bands love for a simple, stoner-like riff and their penchant for noisy experimentalism. A discordant violin works its way through many of the albums finest moments, adding further texture to the group’s trippy wall-of-sound.  

The boxset wraps things up with 2014’s Pathfinder, arguably the most consistently impressive LP in the collection. The album starts with the heavy, droning haze of ‘We’re all Gonna Die’, creating a hazy, dream-like ambience that the mighty Bardo Pond would be proud of.  ‘I’d Rother’ gives a clear, respectful nod to Neu’s Michael Rother; the group proudly wearing its influences on their respective sleeves.

The intro to the epic ‘Pathfinder Blues’ could almost be psych-doom titans Electric Wizard before it decides to take us on a hypnotic, groove-led trip instead. The album ends on an equally mesmeric note with the Alice Coltrane-meets-noise rock drones of ‘Indira’. Nice.

If you’ve been enjoying the pleasures of such underground psych-rock acts as The Cosmic Dead and fancy wrapping your ears around some similarly far-out sounds than you could do with giving TBWNIS a listen. If the boxset proves to be a little out of your price range (or if it simply sells out before payday) you can pick it from Bandcamp too. Now you’ve no excuse.

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