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If three of your main inspirations are blues, India and the ever expanding universe, then there's a fair chance that you won't be writing nice conventional pop songs. Norwegians Electric Eye haven't given us a list of songs to listen to on 'Pick-up, Lift-off, Space, Time', they've asked us to follow them on a sonic exploration of the musical cosmos. We first featured this album upon its official low-key release last year, but with SXSW dates lined-up it's more than worth a re-evaluation. Usually when track lengths get extended it can be off-putting and trap you in a niche market, but despite only two songs coming in at under five minutes, you're never allowed to switch off when listening to this record. Space-rock isn't new; just ask Pink Floyd, Hawkwind, Spacemen 3 or countless others. Rarely though, has it been as consistently engaging as what we're offered here. Yeah, 'Tangerine' passes the nine-minute barrier but you don't tire of it, none of it is superfluous.
In fact it may be 'Tangerine' that best exemplifies Electric Eye. They mention India as an influence, and so you may expect an Eastern flavour to the album, but it's rarely seen unless you go digging for it. This song puts the mid-period Beatles melodies and sitars up front and lets them be one of the most noticeable aspects of this track. You can also hear the sound of Barrett-era Floyd tripping-out on extended freeform jams, the difference being that the groove isn't allowed to stop. Comparisons could be made to Wooden Shjips in that respect; Electric Eye surge ever forward, never looking back, and surely that's what true space-rock should be about. Including the terms psychedelia and drone-rock has become increasingly common in the current alternative musical landscape, but few bands have the consistency and the drive that this quartet have.
Skipping back to the beginning, '6 AM' launches into a searing riff and and a beat that all the police stingers in the world would fail to stop. For over seven minutes it chops and changes but doesn't lose power or groove; it's a real tour-de-force of modern psych, and one they swiftly follow with 'Lake Geneva', a tune that takes samples and sound effects as intermissions and piles on the guitar - not in an indulgent way, more to capture the proper atmosphere, also that word crops up again: groove. By now the flow and the feel of the album are fully apparent, and so when 'Morning Light' bursts forth with a repetitive bassline and a sightly funky beat to go with the sounds of the guitar and swirling vocals you just jump on for the ride. Electric Eye haven't forgotten the blues they spoke of, and the riff to 'The Road' has its roots there; 'Kruskontroll' is strangely danceable, again bringing to mind Wooden Shjips, and as with all the songs on here, each instrument is equally important and integral to the music. They close out with 'Electric Eye'; a drift through space that could have been engineered by Sonic Boom, offering a slightly more serene take on things, but it's quite beautiful. One of the best psych albums of recent times.
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