Curanderos – self-tilted

Curanderos – self-tilted

Initially available on limited gold vinyl amidst this year’s Record Store Day releases avalanche, this debut – and possibly one-off – outing from Curanderos, was probably only picked-up by the most dedicated and cash-rich collector of all things psych-rock.  A super-side-project of sorts, the group captures the conjoining of Bardo Pond’s guitarist brothers Michael and John Gibbons, auxiliary Bardo Pond synths/electronics accomplice Aaron Igler and percussionist Scott Verrastro of the likeminded Kohoutek.  Now given a wider CD release, those who missed out before can belatedly submerge themselves in the same sonic deep diving.

Although this eponymous album’s pairing of two twenty or so minute tracks were meant for side-long sittings – with a convenient break in the middle for those who might need to top up the bong/make a cup of herbal tea/reignite their incense sticks (delete as applicable) – played back-to-back in one digital airing these wordless explorations still make sense.  As veteran authors of hours and hours of sprawling guitar sculpting over the years, the Gibbons siblings are certainly in their element here, albeit steered towards the more languid and freeform ends of their aural spectrum.  However, Igler and Verrastro are still very much part of the communitarian construction process, bringing even more abstract components to the table, to fit in and around the familial six-string mechanics.

The majestic opening “Mescalito Pt. 1” is the most Bardo-like piece of the twosome, with somnolent and cusp-of-menace uncoiling/coiling from the guitar-wielding Gibbons.  Yet, Igler’s synths add atmospheric eeriness on par with early-Pink Floyd and Tago Mago-era Can whilst the prowling undertow of Verrastro’s drums echo German psych-titans Electric Moon.  Despite its length, “Mescalito Pt. 1” sustains the interest throughout, as its hypnotic circles draw themselves around the senses with expert intuition. For the ensuing “Mescalito Pt. 2” things take a more open-ended turn.  With Verrastro unpeeling fragmentary percussive layers like a stoned rattlesnake clattering in a Moroccan musical instrument emporium, Igler eking-out inscrutable waves of noise and the Gibbons carving out distended minimalistic wah-wah shapes, the piece constantly feels on the verge of collapse whilst being oddly engrossing across its long-unwinding trip.

Inevitably, this is a long-player best reserved for pre-existing overlapping fanbases but it’s certainly no self-indulgent slouch set either.  While there is more than enough psych-rock records out there these days, there is still always room for one more as immersive and embroiling as this.

Fire Records