The Island by VolcanoRelease date: December 7, 2018
Label: Tee Pee Records
With a line up consisting of members of Harsh Toke, Joy, Loom and Radio Moscow, you would imagine that offshoot group Volcano would offer something quite remarkable. What you might not expect is a full on Afrobeat album steeped in a lysergic stew of San Diego acid. Taking inspiration from a mix of Fela Kuti, Hendrix and Can it offers more than enough to intrigue the discerning psych head.
The reality is that although those influences are plain to see, it is sometimes hard to remove them from the hybrid noise that is happening and much of the time the music sounds like a second rate copy. That’s not to disparage this album in any way though, as it is actually a vibrant kick to the balls and provides hours of head jigging, feet stomping movement.
Take the excellent ‘No Evil Know Demon’, which trades its tribal chants with explosive funky guitars. After a somewhat unsure start the album comes to life and any calls of cultural misappropriation are thrown to the wind. There’s a definite sense of respect for where their music comes from, and this sweeps through in the wonderful way in which the instruments and vocals intricately weave their way through the mix.
In truth, most of the tracks merge into one after a while although that doesn’t stop the fun in anyway. As the album progresses it gets increasingly deeper until we reach the absolutely scorching solo on ‘10,000 Screaming Souls’. Musically very little changes and the vocals all become a maelstrom of chanting over the repetitive funky bass. The joy is in the actual rhythm though and if you don’t feel yourself moving along then you might just want to check your temperature. Things get quite hot in here at times and you may just be dead if you don’t feel it!
Most surprising is how this album sounds literally nothing like any of the ones listed above in the opening paragraph. The essence of the explosive guitars that Joy and Harsh Toke provide is there, but any further comparison is out of the question. The nearest contemporary comparison would probably be Goat, but even then you get the idea that where Goat make a career out of it, Volcano are in it to pay homage and to have fun. Either way, they sure make a fun time of it on an at times transcendent album. Funky times indeed.