Sunday, February 16, 2014

Chef Menteur's "East of the Sun and West of the Moon"

Chef Menteur is a multi-instrumental three-piece hailing from NOLA, whence they returned to rebuild their studio after Hurricane Katrina, and where they record for the local Backporch Revolution collective. Their third album, the sprawling song cycle East of the Sun and West of the Moon, is released in an edition of 200 as a double LP that comes in a gatefold handprinted by artist Thomas Peri. It's also downloadable via Bandcamp for those less attuned to the Romance of the Artifact. (There's a fan club-only digital release of three more albums' worth of toonage from the same sessions. Prolific, these Nawlinians be.)

The music's a revelation for fans of freak-folk and doom metal as well as psych aficionados, drawing on all the usual Euro suspects, from '70s Krauts to more recent developments like Motorpsycho, but with strong elements of ambient electronica bumping up against the droning organs and squalling feedback guitars. The proggy folk dance "Il obstrue ma vue de Venus" contrasts delicate acoustic interludes with crushingly heavy bass and drum-driven sections, while "Terpsichore" hits like a Saucerful of Secrets outtake. The album's tour de force is the 11-minute "Oxen of the Sun," which starts out powerfully hypnotic and then accelerates, creating a sense of reckless forward motion. Or try the 19-minute "Ganymede," a fitting title for a track that unfolds as slowly and majestically as a moonrise over Jupiter. Like only the best psychedelia, East of the Sun creates an alternate universe you wouldn't mind inhabiting.


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