Review: Electric Eye – Bless

With their seemingly ambitious second album, Bless, Norwegian psych outfit Electric Eye manage to create an impeccably produced callback to the space rock and koscmische musik of the seventies.

The album begins with the chaotic ‘Silent by the River’, an upbeat affair complete with the hallmark guitar noodling drenched in echo, and animalistic drumming typical of cosmic rock bands of the past like Hawkwind or many early Krautrock bands.

The percussive madness continues through to ‘All of This Has Happened Before and Will Happen Again’, although the album seems to settle more for the middle of the road than attempting to push the boundaries with the groan-worthy inclusion of sampled dialogue and the more interesting elements, such as the sitar, blending into the boringly orthodox, homogenous psychedelic sound of the album.

The third track ‘Mercury Rise’ continues in the same vein, although here the sound becomes even more derivative, akin to T Rex if they became too preoccupied with their early psych stylings. The album does pick up eventually, with the more grandiose songs like ‘Heavy Steps on the Desert Floor’ – the longest and perhaps most ambitious on the album. Adopting the most progressive style of all the tracks, it begins with a light crescendo and ends with an all-out cacophony of sound, with the high production value turning the band into an immersive orchestra; a natural progression from the comparatively lo-fi sound of Pink Floyd’s first album, of which this track bears more than a passing resemblance.

The most surprising track on the album is the funk laden ‘Never Fade Away’, surprisingly not a distracting addition due to the ever-present echo, but also unfortunately falling short of the ‘interesting’ mark.

Closing the album in a sombre manner is ‘Part One’, an instrumental track with a celestial vocalised accompaniment, best described by its title as it does not appear to resolve into anything but is a welcome break from the relentless percussion throughout.

Overall the album seeks to achieve much with its psychedelic stylings but ultimately falls short, not because of artistic risks taken which did not pay off, but rather the lack of risk evidenced by the fact that ultimately there are very few of the long free-form freak-outs that are to be expected of space rock. Most of the album is orthodox song-writing with gratuitous cosmic effects and typically spaced-out lyrics like ‘swimming in the desert sand’, and in this way it essentially masquerades as a psychedelic album by using the aesthetic without actually exploring any of its more liberal aspects in regards to song structure.

Max Smith

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