Review: Eternal Tapestry - A World Out of Time

(Vinyl LP, Thrill Jockey, 2012)

Two full-length Eternal Tapestry vinyls in one year? Yes, please? The newest offering from the Portland based caveman krautrock jam collective, released again by the perennialy cool Thrill Jockey record label is the apparent “breakthrough” in the career of the band, in the sense of recording the whole album in one take, rather than collecting various and random jams recorded at different times on the previous albums. And this can be heard - the whole new effort, together with highly cosmic, urban sci-fi artwork, has a way higher sense of integration and coherent vision of psychedelia than many of the band’s previous releases.

What is also apparent on this newest album, is the band’s ability to harness and tone down their own sound: while on previous albums they often exhibited the “let’s go wild” approach, allowing the jams to grow into monstrous monoliths of uncontrolled lysergic madness, here the sound is often much more restrained and pushed into boundaries of what can be considered an actual “song”, not just a free jam. While the opening track “When I Was In Your Mind” still retains much of Etap’s penchant for snakelike guitar soloing and stretching the time of the track (now, now, don’t get too formal, this is what psych rock is ABOUT), the following tracks are more economical in approach, which doesn’t mean they won’t make your head spin at times, even without drugs. Like “When Gravity Fails”, an amphetamine jam emerging unexpectedly from the slow, dubby beginning that merges recording of rain with lethargic electronic rhythm straight outta Dewey Mahood’s Edibles project. Or the immediately reconizable, stonery riff of “Apocalypse Troll”, which sounds like a 20-minute jam condensed into neat two minutes (a little too condensed, if you ask me, incredible potential right here).

"A World Out of Time" contains a true gem, and a surprise for even the most die-hard Eternal Tapestry fans, something that almost never happens (or happens very rarely): an actual SONG with LYRICS and VOCALS (the closing "Sand Into Rain") When I first heard it, I thought my music player suddenly went into the "random" mode and just switched to some peaceful 70’s hippie folk record. The beautiful, dusted atmosphere of the closing track is worth getting the album alone: Eternal Tapestry managed to recreate the vintage atmosphere of old time folky music perfectly, sounding like some beatific bard lost in time and unearthened after many years with a neatly packaged reissue. Except it’s 2012, not 1972, but it seems like the guys from Etap achieved the level of expertise in psychedelia to live on two planes and in two eras at once - allowing themselves for digital experimentation here and there while remaining faithful to their psychedelic forefathers. Another great offering from these Portland dudes. Highly recommended!