Psychedelic rock can certainly find favor with me, but I don’t think it’s ever struck a chord quite as deeply as the chaps in Early Mammal do. From the fade-in of instrumental “The Great German” to the fade-out of that same song reprised as “GG Return & Out,” their album “Take a Lover” is one gloriously thick pan of magic brownies.
This album demands maximum tolerable volume and begs to redefine what “tolerable” means in that context. The guitar is deliciously fat and fuzzy, blanketing the eardrums as “Inside” trudges somewhere north of a plod but well south of a mid tempo. “Morning” seductively sidles up to your consciousness, and bears no small resemblance to Dead Meadow, and the very best Dead Meadow at that. The chorus is punctuated with big exclamation points of crushing low end that you quickly begin to crave, anticipating their next appearance. Near the end of the track some Doors-like keys come flooding in and light up the groove with shimmering radiance.
“Sigh On,” however, may well be the album’s highlight. Again nodding to a Dead Meadow vibe, this song is moody, melancholy bliss carried on a rumbling bassline that’ll vibrate the speakers off the shelves. Rob Herian’s voice is high, warbly and emotional, and could not be more perfectly suited to the gray and beautiful atmosphere. After this delightful departure, the heaviness that returns on “Glad Is Night” seems all the more colossal. The riffs are blown out, crumbling at the edges, and heaving like the breath of some ancient beast long slumbering but starting to awaken. As if to signal an epic mindfuck of a journey, the song goes on at the same pace, repeating those riffs while spacey freeform guitar melodies are played over the top, for a full seven minutes before the first vocals enter. It ends shortly thereafter, but it could have gone on for 20 minutes and I’d have loved every second of it.
After the brief interlude of “Sak Bacle,” the album delivers what is another highlight for me: a track called “Magic, Art & Bells,” which is nothing more than a voice explaining “the way art uses and controls magical thinking” and how “…art is our equivalent in civilized countries for magical spells.” I haven’t been able to determine who this person is, but the message resonates with me, as does his repeated quote from Doctor Faustus: “A sound magician is a mighty god.” Perhaps this is the band being a little self-indulgent, but it all rings so true, embedded in this legitimately magical soundscape. The final proper track is “The Good,” oozing over with bluesy chops and using the same tactic as “Morning,” periodically dropping in some shuddering deep chords.
I’ve never been a big fan of the term “stoner rock” because I’ve never been a stoner, but it sure seems to me like “Take a Lover” is the ideal soundtrack to getting baked. 4:20, y’all.
Get stoned here.