Heavy Water Experiments – s/t

The self-titled debut by Heavy Water Experiments cooks up choice blends of psychedelic, sludge, and acid rock. This motley combination of classic genres blooms darkly sweet in this LA duo’s capable hands. Despite some weak spots, this album is a compelling listen for indie rock fans.

The music revolves around persuasive grooves, swirling in between Black Sabbath’s blues-born jams and Pink Floyd’s atmospheric swells. The result is unique. The dominant aesthetic is psychedelia and, although Heavy Water Experiments’ influences are obvious, the band does not keep company with today’s classic rock revivalists.

The album has weak spots. The clean, bright vocals occasionally stumble. And HWE can rehash some stale sounds, leaving their hypnotic grooves susceptible to monotony.

But most of the album is rich with alluring bouts of synth keys and fuzzed guitar dirges nailed on to excellent performances by the rhythm section.

Opening track “Goldenthroat” delivers the album’s best sludge. The distorted, descending guitar riff tag teams dreamy atmospheres. The vocal sounds timid sometimes, but overcomes. This is a strong opener, equal parts hypnosis and tension. “Mirror The Sky” strides through a solid groove under music festooned with electric keys. The fuzzed out, wandering guitar frees up space over the rhythm section. This song is less of a sludge track, and more of a basement jam that is polished off with an elevated bridge section at 3:00. The vocals vaguely resemble Clinic. “Mirror The Sky” is among the album’s best tracks.

The acid rock-inspired “Anodyne” reveals the album’s weaknesses. Some flaccid vocals are propped up with harmonies and the music loses flavor by song’s end. Luckily, the best track comes next.

On “Clairvoyance”, a fuzzed guitar and bass put a catchy riff on repeat, dressing it up with electric keys. That riff becomes a hook backed by a redeemed vocal and relaxed groove. The hook and focused rhythm performance makes this a winner.

Next, “Neverlove” inserts a choppy riff between fluid atmospheres. And the danceable “Oracles” showcases lighter theatrics that trickle over the bass.

“Octavian” is a rich, compelling addition to this debut. Here, an acoustic 12 string engages other instruments for a fresh take on Eastern and Latin influences.

But now, the well starts to run dry. “Otherland” and “Dementia” approach a hook, but ultimately fail to gel. And the distorted guitar on “Conflagration Song” boosts power, but soon the tired wah wah effects go limp.

“Solitude” is a return to form, as a driving rhythm pushes electric keys down a slithering bass line. The music floats and the vocals blend well. But the album closes weakly with the extended jam, “Book Colored Blue”. The gong-jumped rhythm and phoned-in psychedelics dig a 10 minute hole and can’t climb out.

Despite their late game losses, Heavy Water Experiments get a lot more right on their debut than they get wrong. They meld focused psychedelics and rhythms juxtaposed with heavier guitars and bass. The music never comes off as aggressive or over saturated. Imogen has successfully reinvented itself as a formidable talent known as Heavy Water Experiments.