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Mondo Drag - Mondo Drag CD (album) cover

MONDO DRAG

Mondo Drag

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.79 | 20 ratings

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Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars A tasty little 35 minute spacy and heavy retro-rocker, 2015's self-titled second official Mondo Drag album sees the original band, which included members of modern psych/blues group Blues Pills deliver a blast from the past of Seventies psych- tinged heavy rock with a battery of vintage and analogue gear. Running through a punchy mix of melodic rockers that work in everything from the scorching Hammond organ of Atomic Rooster, the heavy riffing of Black Sabbath and the psychedelic dreamy colour of the late Sixties/early Seventies Pink Floyd period, it's an addictive mix of catchy vocal tracks (keyboard player John Gamino steps into the lead vocal role here too) and one truly sublime centrepiece instrumental.

Lead track `Zephyr' is all business, a scorching Hammond organ-powered acid-rocker with treated vocals calling from the skies before the group races off in a frantic instrumental run, but it's a shame about the completely abrupt ending barely two minutes in! Nice slow-burn droning guitar (both Nolan Girard and Jake Sheley are credited on this LP) meanders over Cory Berry's steadying beat and the warm hum of organ opens `Crystal Visions Opens Eyes' before it takes a fiery turn, all Atomic Rooster-like occult tinged lyrics from a snarling voice commanding `Light the fire and make the offer', with great Hammond and guitar duelling finally climaxing together before a reflective and drowsy acoustic finish. Bookended by hard riff plodding, `The Dawn' quickly picks up in tempo and becomes a spirited Beggars Opera-style dash, and `Plumajilla' reveals itself to be one of the more ambitious pieces. The main guts of the tune is all muscular Deep Purple-like riffs and walls of Black Sabbath thick grumbling atmosphere with a sexy dark strut to it, but drifting strains of flute weaving in and out and a reflective instrumental diversion in the second half holds eerie Pink Floyd organ that grows triumphant and eventually comforting.

The flip-side may be even better, starting with `Shifting Sands', an up-tempo relentless bubbling psych/space-rocker, Zack Anderson's chasing bass murmuring sweetly behind shimmering other-worldly treated vocals, warping distorted electronics and weeping David Gilmour-like electric guitar caresses. Then the crowning achievement of the album arrives with instrumental `Pillars of the Sky'. Behind Nick Mason-esque drum steadiness, thick thoughtful bass and drowsy late Sixties Gilmour guitar embers. Keyboardist John Gamino concocts an ocean of whirring electronics, Hammond organ drones, twirling Moog spirals and fragile Mellotron veils over piercing piano that brings to mind the `Atom Heart Mother'-era, and it sounds like a lost Pink Floyd classic from the early Seventies. `Snakeskin' then closes the album, an acid rocker with a mantra-like quality of Doors-ish crooning invocations, and brooding unceasing Hammond fire smouldering delivers a lurking unease and plenty of wafting smoky incense mystery.

Recorded back in 2011-12, this will prove to be a transitional album for the group, as two members departed to fully focus on the now higher-profile Blues Pills, but with bassist Ventura Garcia and drummer Andrew O'Neil now in place, a new album `Occultation of Light' is already due in February 2016. But no matter how that one turns out, for now `Mondo Drag' is easy to replay, full of dirty foot-tapping grooves, loaded with cool playing and housed in gorgeous deep-space artwork (do yourself a favour and snap up one of the lovely vinyl copies!), so what's not to love?

Four stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |

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