The second release this year from the psychedelic savants of Sendelica... and if you thought The Kaleidoscopic Kat and its Autoscopic Ego went to places your ears haven’t seen in years, then two volumes of the aptly-titled Megaliths are going to turn you inside out.
The basics. Over the last five years, in and around their own albums, the west Welsh warriors have contributed soundtracks to no less than four movies: Sleepwalker Fever (2008), Trillian Eight (2010), Ritual (2011) and When The Rising Apes Meet The Falling Angels (2012)... none of which you’ve probably heard of, although now you want to see them, don’t you? Or, at least, you will when you’ve heard their soundtracks.
Gathered together across two CDs, Megaliths offers up a first time release for three of them (Sleepwalker Fever did once appear in a 50 copy limited edition), and the two hours that you spend in its presence... well, let’s just say, if you’re a stranger to the band, if you can imagine Neil Young playing “Maggot Brain,” while Richard Thompson, Ozric Tentacles and the pre-Meddle Floyd drift in and out of earshot, those may or may not be among the touchstones that Sendelica held close as these soundtracks came together. Well, “Maggot Brain” certainly was, as the band’s Fruits de Mer single gets a delirious reprise (as “Return of Maggot Brains”) to open the show.
Elsewhere, however, the impressions are subjective as ten further instrumental excursions send soundscapes ricochetting around the room, sometimes contemplative, sometimes abrasive, but never less than spellbinding. By Sendelica’s own reckoning, this is the sound of them exploring ambient and chilled out textures, and there is a degree of that within - the seductively mantric “To Create is Divine” is a case in point.
But "I Don't Wanna Be Your Satori" will very purposefully remind you of the Stooges as it simultaneously reincarnates "Interstellar Overdrive," while other moments snag memories of Pink Floyd in concert around 1970-1971, the “Embryo”/”Green Is The Color”/”Careful With That Axe” era that really should have been explored a lot more fully. There’s that same sense of beauty batting tension, tightly wrought but gently unspooling, and mysterious even after you grasp its secrets.
“Trillian Eight,” almost half an hour of shifting, shimmering, whispering, cascades, is breathtaking in its enormity; “Arizona Beginnings” almost childlike in a simplicity that only slowly builds towards an eerie moonscape of sonic specters. There are moments in King Crimson’s past that maybe glance in these directions, and the ghost of Frippertronics repays the observation, but the key to these pieces lies less in random ambience than an almost startling sense of purpose.
Even at its improvisational height (and there are moments here that feel so organic that nobody could have known what was going to happen next), Megaliths is preternaturally preordained, in the same way that the sonic structures of Belbury Poly and the Advisory Circle know precisely what they’re doing, even if they don’t always know where they’re going.
Yeah, that good, that fascinating.
We all should have moved a lot faster, though. A limited edition of twenty-five copies of Megaliths arrived with a bonus remix CD, a handpainted box and a "build your own Sendelicahenge” diorama. That sold out some days before the release date. Curses.
But there’s a less limited edition, autographed two CD set available from the band’s Bandcamp site, and a regular eleven track download that presumably will never run out. So head on over, pick one up. There’s a lot of music you want to listen to between now and the holidays, but once you’ve stepped inside the megaliths, this may be all you need.