Solar Trip

Here at Clean and Sober Stoner Headquarters, CEO Newbie-Doomer was asking me about upcoming bands that were on the “A” list.

“Well, I’ve found a hot prospect from Poland.”

“Oh,” she said. “Tell me about ’em. What kind of music?”

“Definitely Stoner with a heavy Psych vibe.” She raised an eyebrow, which tells me she’s interested but needs more. “Oh, they are like totally Space Rock, great stuff. Pretty Trippy.”

“You didn’t tell me Spaceslug had a new one out…”

“Nooo. NOT Spaceslug. Solar Trip, man. Totally different vibe.”

She was not convinced. But, this should do it: Solar Trip might exist in the same universe as Spaceslug, but in a different different galaxy. Being a fan or not of the first band will probably have no effect on how much you like Solar Trip. The only similarities are at the surface: country of origin, genre and instruments used. Maybe more, but you get the picture.

As far as genre goes, this is clearly in the Stoner/Psych/Space Rock realm. Laid back and chill at times, with heaviness used more as punctuation than the main narrative. I’ve been around modern Stoner/Psych long enough to know that I need to give things time. That’s one of the best developments in the scene over the past 10 years or so. 40 or 50 years ago, Psych bands came out of the gate hitting you on the head with how “trippy” they were. Thanks to King Buffalo, Elder and newer bands like Desert Wave, things take a while to build. More emphasis on mood and letting things develop…THEN wallop you with a gnarly riff or fist-bumping tempo change.

Opener Trip I-Tempation surprised me with an almost Joe Satriani precision. It didn’t click with me very well, not being a fan of the almost robotic bass and drum lines in that dude’s music. At about the 4:20 minute mark, things started to get interesting, and the desired psychoactive effect started to kick in. What stands out for me the most is the excellent percussion work from Mateusz. Shifting gears almost entirely, the drums take on a lead instrument quality, in that I’m drawn to it. Cymbal work usually gets to me after a while if it’s a constant bash-smash-crash of noise. On this song, and whole album, the drums add depth and texture while expanding beyond just time-keeping duties. I’ve noticed this a lot lately: drummers taking on more of a Bill Ward or even Bill Brufford approach, adding complexity beyond snare/kick/crash. This tends to expand as the album progresses.

The transition to Trip II- Madness brings this point home, along with the synth track bridging the two pieces. I’d like to credit King Buffalo with bringing this approach back into style, but there may be others. At any rate, Madness is the point where the psychoactive effects start to kick in, and I’m sure most of you will hear all sorts of references and influences here. Personally, I think those can get in the way if I mention them too often. Regardless. eventually I stopped analyzing the “this and that” of this piece and found the music took over, guiding me to one heck of a light show when I closed my eyes and stopped fighting it. Give in to Solar Trip, forget everything else you’ve heard, and let these craftsmen take you where they want to take you. Your patience will be rewarded. I had a problem with the title of Madness until the 7 minute mark, but then I quit fighting and I did indeed experience a form of madness. Solar Trip, indeed…

Again, a perfect transition into Trip III- A Dream Of… takes place. I don’t want to give too much away, and I will tell you that if you were craving a more explosive and heavy experience in your personal trip so far, it happens.

Solar Trip could have easily ended at that point, but thank goodness they keep things going. Everything is Relative proves what I suspect: these guys lived on a healthy diet of 80’s King Crimson for a while. But don’t worry, it’s not a clone or a copy as much as the use of repetitive picking techniques that lay the background for some nice guitar flourishes. There is clearly a mastery of technique with every member of the band, and the overall balance makes the whole thing work.

Closer Mourn is awesome. But heads up, the last 3 minutes are some intensely psychedelic moments that could freak you out if you ate too many edibles or fall too deeply into a trance state. It’s one of my favorite points on the album, and I thought was the perfect way to end it. Your mileage may very.

There’s a couple things I want to mention outside of the review itself. First, I think the delivery system will affect your experience with it. I enjoyed it no matter how I listened to it: iPhone with in-ears, computer speakers or car stereo. But the more I listened to it, the more I found that a good pair of headphones and a dead-quiet amp really changed the experience. Sure, speakers will be totally fine. But the experience of having a good set of headphones, with clear center image and a moderate soundstage make listening to it a mind-blowing event. One that gets better with each listen, as I begin to anticipate and become familiar with what Solar Trip has done.

Lastly, this is a Stoner/Psychedelic experience from start to finish, and one of the few releases where I recommend not listening to it in a car. It’s very easy to get lost in it, and your mind might wander a bit. I recommend something with more of an adrenalin hit on the road, especially for long drives. This produces more serotonin, oxytocin and GABA than anything else. Operate heavy machinery with caution.

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