2015 : Svart Records
Format : LP/CD
I’ve been a fan of Finland’s, Jess and the Ancient Ones for about a year and a half now. I certainly haven’t been around since their inception in 2010, but after visiting the self-titled, debut as well as the two EPs, “Castaneda” and “Astral Sabbat” it’s easy to trace both the musical and thematic evolution of the band to where they are now. On the advent of their second LP, “Second Psychedelic Coming: The Aquarius Tapes” I find myself unable to contain my excitement. I must have played this thing through at least three times before I’d even thought about reviewing it. It was one of those moments of pure, ecstatic music induced trances that leaves you trying to recollect where the past few hours went.
Seamlessly blending the psychedelic sounds of the late 60s and early 70s with hard rock, the band has taken even further steps to move away from the now well overused term “occult rock” and instead has stepped straight into the realm of classic and psychedelic Rock ‘n’ Roll while emanating similar vibes as Roky Erickson, Jefferson Airplane and Blue Oyster Cult.
I do believe that Jess has one of the strongest voices around right now. There’s no doubt in my mind that she takes after her predecessors. This is indeed a difficult task as the recording technology (or lack of) during that time period was at times inadvertently responsible for creating the atmosphere that a lot of us grew to cherish. JATAO have reached deep into Rock ‘n’ Roll history and resurrected their own brand of twisting, weaving, and mind melting riffs demonstrated on tracks like, “Goetia of Love” and more particularly on the single, “In Levitating Secret Dreams.”
It’s easy to get lost in Jess’ absolutely spellbinding vocalizations, but I think each member here has gone above and beyond in their contributions. Thomas Corpse’s leads are outstanding on every single track here. The synthesizers and electronic effects are still handled by Abraham and are largely responsible for building the foundations and backdrops to each of the songs, particularly on larger pieces like, “Wolves in My Head.” The album collectively is far more ambitious than anything they’ve ever done up until now.
This is also the longest record I’ve heard this year. Clocking in at well over an hour and with the closing track, “Goodbye to Virgin Grounds Forever” boasting a run time of nearly twenty-three minutes, the band spared absolutely no effort on this release. The cover art is just as captivating as the music itself. A naked man and woman stand atop a patch of mushrooms and holding a ribbon bearing the album’s title. Above them, and fixed beneath twin moons and a rainbow, famous faces including but not limited to; Aliester Crowley, H.P. Lovecraft, Charles Manson and Aldous Huxley are emblazoned upon a star. This is one of those rare occurrences where everything seems to fall right where it should in order to create a compelling and engrossing record. “Second Psychedelic Coming” is most definitely worth owning and without question will be holding a spot in my “Best of 2015” list.