Zen Bastard by Earthling Society

Release date: February 3, 2017
Label: Drone Rock Records

Fleetwood space travellers Earthling Society have gained more than a few plaudits in their time from luminaries such as Julian Cope and Hawkwind, among others, and it’s not hard to see why. Psych in its truest sense, whilst all around a new breed explores paths laid down by the likes of J Spaceman and co, Earthling Society have stayed close to the style set out by the pioneers with not only the aforementioned Hawkwind being recognised, but also more diverse fare such as Amon Duul II, Sun Ra and even Steve Hillage. Taking in this melting pot of influences and turning it into their own, each release is always something of an experience.

Which brings us to Zen Bastard, three songs plus an extended version of the title track, short shrift is not what you get with the songs reaching out past the ten minute mark and the ‘Zodiac Suite’ busting past the twenty minutes or so. Even considering these are reworked tracks from their back catalogue, there is ample psychedelic wonder to keep you tripping for a good while yet. The psych pulse is so strong that it’s unlikely you’ll even need drugs (although you know, when in space). This is real head music for real heads.

The motorik riff of ‘Zen Bastard’, the opening explosion, revs up the ante into a greasy biker meets Can epic. The roaring vocals kind of lost in the haze of guitars but just about ripping through with their fury. It’s almost a clarion call and carries all the hallmarks of the stoner 70’s with it. If it wasn’t for the intensity it would almost straddle the line of being boring, the laconic yet revved delivery of instruments almost falling over themselves to get out. It’s a cavalcade of noise, the sound of fury, the sound of a band paying homage to their influences.

‘OutsideOfInTime’ expands the palette into a much more trippier affair as the music loses its intensity yet gains in melodic terms. We’re still firmly in the territory of space though and as the almost soaring vocals give way to a dub interlude you find yourself dancing with pure abandonment, wondering just how you got here, but also not caring as it is so much fun.

Earthling Society are absolute masters at seemingly throwing everything in the mix which at first sounds like a collision of noise, yet once you let it into your mind, makes sense in ways you never thought it would. It’s on the longer pieces such as ‘Zodiac Suite’ that you can appreciate the many roads this band are prepared to travel down. Rock, dub, jazz, its all here and provided with a heady mix of psychedelia.

If you want to experience what true psych is then you simply need to listen to Earthling Society. Each release provides something different and Zen Bastard can stand tall amongst them. Lovers of classic space rock will find much to love whilst the new psych fans may just get an earful of what true heads listen to. Another fine release from one of the best psych bands around. It really doesn’t get much better than this.

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