Having first inaugurated their recorded presence with a low-key yet intriguing contribution to Howling Owl’s Sink compilation EP in 2014, it’s taken until now for Bristol’s Taos Humm to deliver a full-length calling-card. Yet in an age where too many fledgling groups jump into releasing an album prematurely, it’s perhaps a good thing that the trio of Sunny-Joe Paradisos, Matt Robbins and Edward Penfold took their time, whether by accident or design. Certainly on the basis of the somewhat wackily-named Flute Of The Noodle Bender – co-released by Howling Owl and Stolen Body Records – a lengthier progeny-producing process has served them well.
But where to start in describing and unpicking what makes Flute Of The Noodle Bender such a deliciously demented and occasionally dreamy smorgasbord-like sonic feast? Certainly there are strong shades of Thee Oh Sees’ melodic motorik-psychedelic-pop shot through with the feverish eccentricity of Rotterdam’s Rats On Rafts that embed king-sized hooks across the LP; as heard on the slinky and shredding “RC” and “Hi Hats Are For Post Punk Heroes” as well as through the infectious bubble-gum garage-punk of “OOO OOO OOO” and the rubbery giddiness of “Velociraptortoise”. Yet there’s more going on than canny cross-referencing with contemporary psych ‘n’ roll.
Elsewhere, the threesome’s more expansive yet more nuanced personas are exhibited. Hence, “Meek” unfurls as a languid low-slung echo of early-Factory Records artists; “Tapestars” unspools as a balmy yet discombobulated dubscape; and “Son Song” sprawls out like a Bardo Pond-meets-Sonic Boom collaboration. In-between times, there is also space left for more deranged immersive moments; in the shape of the churning woozy of “Bluhr”, the ear-bleeding Oneida-like heaviness of “Scarlet You’re Handsome” and the stomping acid-rock racket-making of “BB”.
Admittedly, there are times where it feels that Taos Humm couldn’t quite decide if their largely mangled and indecipherable vocals are integral song components or just there for added texture, which sometimes suggests a sense of unfinished business. However, such a minor unresolved tension doesn’t ultimately dilute the cocktail of free-range yet finessed aural stimulants that make Flute Of The Noodle Bender one of this year’s most remarkably intoxicating and addictive debut long-players.