Stories Of The Astral Lizard by The Re-Stoned

Release date: June 4, 2018
Label: Oak Island Records

Of all the places in the world that you would least expect to find a burgeoning psych scene would be one which is more synonymous with oppression than freedom. It is here though, in Moscow, that we find The Re-Stoned, a two piece instrumental outfit, expanding our minds, and hopefully their freedoms, with their new album, Stories Of The Astral Lizard.

Following on from their hard hitting previous release, Chronoclasm, they have delved into a more fluid, expansive sound, brought to life by its liquid blues guitar. Taking their cue from the slow morbidity of Pink Floyd, and letting the looseness of free-form experimentalism guide the way, they have created an album which is at times frustratingly pedestrian, but also satisfyingly uplifting once they hit their stride.

The problem with this album is it takes an age to pull you in, and for all its soothing melodic guitar work, it’s pretty much a simple blues melody played over and over. Beneath the surface the rhythm bubbles along but turn away and you are likely to miss what is the devil in the detail. It’s on repeated listens that the little touches come through, and you can start to grasp on to it’s deeper moments.

After a rather forgettable opening nine minutes or so of ‘Fractal Panorama’, a guitar led track which simply never gets out of the rut it builds for itself, it’s down to ‘Mental Print For Free’ to really get us moving. That would be “moving” in a figurative sense though, as the laconic music does nothing except induce a catatonic state. Ideal if stoned but pretty dull if not, it does feature some rather beautiful acoustic playing which lifts the song from its threatened doldrums. It’s in these little moments of clarity and beauty that you understand what The Re-Stoned are trying to achieve, and it keeps you listening until the end.

‘A Companion From The Outside’ takes a more psychedelic route as its phased sounds drift around an arpeggio guitar. Once the music blooms it really is quite something and brings to mind the early experimentalism of Tangerine Dream. It’s an unusual moment for such a guitar led album, although later it does threaten to turn into Dire Straits at their most bland.

There are no further surprises in store until a rather lovely ‘The Heather Carnival’ ends the album on a high note with its bucolic folk sound. After the album has dulled your senses with its earnestness, The Re-Stoned instil a sense of playfulness into their music and with it, a whole new appetite for hearing more of what they have in store. Alas, that will have to wait until their next release, and by leaving us wanting more, they kind of side-step that as a whole, Stories Of The Astral Lizard is well meaning and beautifully played, but essentially dull. A misfire on this occasion but one hopes that next time they hit all cylinders firing.

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