Alasehir/Alumbrados/Vapour Theories CDs reviewed by Luc Rodgers

Music Reviews
Alasehir/Alumbrados/Vapour Theories CDs reviewed by Luc Rodgers
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Nov 15, 2007, 04:29

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ALASEHIR Sharing the Sacred CD ALUMBRADOS A Garden of Vipers CD VAPOUR THEORIES Joint Chiefs CD

Whether it's that Bardo Pond limits its creative output or maybe there's just too much juice flowing to capture in a single cup, brothers John and Michael Gibbons have amassed a reputable collection of recordings under many pseudonyms. Each focus on a certain something that can be hard to distinguish but nevertheless has a sound and feel omnipresent in both style and execution.

Alasehir, named after a town/district in Turkey, consists of the brothers Gibbons joined by Michael Zanghi on drums. The stoner rock title is easily applied while listening to “Jinn,” “Bone Fire,” and “Malta,” but with “Seven Tongues,” the third out of the four-song collection, a broader vision is apparent with the tamboura and sitar sharing the spotlight. Everything moves within its own current, as it is meant to be, and maintains a certain dominant presence with everything working side by side rather than against each other. What separates this from a typical stoner/doom release is the seeming acceptance of the surroundings—it is not there to entertain, merely to add to whatever is already going on. And in this it's perfect. Sharing the Sacred never boasts and never shuns. It doesn't need to. It simply is.

Aaron Igler, a fine art photographer by trade, joins Zanghi and the Gibbons for their Alumbrados project (named after a now defunct mystical form of Christianity). On A Garden of Vipers, the boys weave together a passive, moaning two-song excursion into the otherworldly. “Principium I” hovers above the sandy desert weaving in the currents and melding together a wall of welcome sound. Never does it veer into shock territory, it simply watches from a distance unbothered by outside forces. That is until a few minutes into “Green Lion” that things take a more dramatic turn. What starts out as a simple plucking of the guitar laughing with the cümbüs morphs into a horrific, deep beat. The robot birds chirp and scream as if it's the last morning ever. Eventually the storm passes and all involved seem to live another day.

Vapour Theories finds the Gibbons brothers together with no one else. Sharing guitar duties, the brothers separately enjoy saxophone, tabla, and various percussions to fill out yet another strange journey into the beyond. Joint Chiefs starts out in a simple, lone blues “Apostacy” that Sir Richard Bishop would nod in approval of. Halfway, and into half time, everything seems to darken and the demon hiding beneath rears an ugly mask of loneliness and acceptance at the same time. Discomfort is the intended mood, but annoyance holds the reins as it drives deeper and deeper into an uninteresting abyss. The voice at the start of “Blood Sacrifice (For JD)” (“Billions of years ago you were a big band”) harkens back to a day when…they played with other people? Or is it a memento of their one time popularity? Neither can be true as their music practically begs for additions and, frankly, Bardo Pond, and every side project, were never “big” by any means. Maybe it is not meant to be thought out too much…the mysteriousness in itself should suffice. An unchanging note vibrates with a pounding conga into an attempt at an escalation near the end…but the fizzling out is welcome by the time of its arrival. The voice returns to proclaim, after all, that they are the “big band” and a “force of the universe,” for that matter. To quote Sean Connery in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, “The solution presents itself.” “The Medicine of The Third Order” mumbles on without a blink, merely an usher into “Deliquium,” the final installment of the album. Here, the acoustic guitars weave with noises to possibly come together, only to depart from one another for nearly twenty minutes. It is pretty and languid for up to six of those minutes, the remaining ones mimic a hot sun that one just needs to be shaded from.

With such an output there are bound to be misses, and that is Vapor Theories by far. We all want to be alone sometimes, but there is really no need to record it. Alasehir and Alumbrados both share the idea that getting together with like-minded people can only produce good results and the evidence is in the package. These releases are where interest is piqued and momentum is maintained. [Alasehir & Alumbrados = Important / Vapour Theories = The Lotus Sound]

-Luc Rodgers

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