Ah New Zealand, the temptation to form an opinion based on stereotypes of sheep worrying, Lord Of The Rings and the infinitely superior rugby team, might lead the outsider to scoff at the suggestion of Stoner Rock finding an unlikely champion in such an environment, but deep in the heart of Aukland, former Dutura and Lamp Of The Universe mastermind Craig Williamson has been slowly honing his credentials as the number one purveyor of psychedelic, cosmic rock.
Picking on traits of his previous works there is a swagger to ‘Circle Of The Sun’ which reflects the confidence of a man on top of his game, as ‘Universal Form’ strides in with big hairy bollocks belying the sense of psychedelic melody that forms it’s core.
Kicking off the album in supreme majestic style the song strides in with the kind of Black Sabbath meets Cathedral doom rock riffing that will have you nodding your head sagely and dream of riding a Brontosaurus across the tail of a comet.
Williamson himself is credited as handling Bass, Vocals, Stiar, Tanpura, Saz, Keyboards, Syths, Bells, Space Guitar and providing Wordless Spiritual Chant . Such a dizzying array of artefacts could have you fearing that this is a free form Acid Trip from some fried out Hippy, but the band, completed by guitarist Matt Cole and drummer John Strange, keep proceedings tight and muscular as the band take you on an interstellar journey that pleads you to throw off the shackles of this earth and join them exploring the outer reaches. Even the artwork with its solar images is all part of the package, designed to reflect the ideology at the heart of the concept.
Make no mistake this is an album that rocks, it floats out the stereo like the waft of a herbal cigarette across a festival field, images of bearded men in denim and leather make it feel like it belongs kicking out in Scandinavia rather than the plains of New Zealand. It may have its meandering melodies and it’s astral spaciness but it bloody rocks mate.
Having returned from the kind of day that would make St Francis of Assisi kick puppies, a blast on the stereo of ‘Circle Of The Sun’ with it’s perfect build and release dynamics, heroic lyrics and crashing symbols shed all the small stuff and left a feeling of serenity behind.
From the Spiritual Beggars esque Cosmic Eye with its captivating wah pedel action to the epic closing crawl of ‘Master Of The Serpents’ this is an album that asks you to open your mind, bang your head and strap in with them.