Hexvessel – No Holier Temple
Label: Svart Records
Released: September 7th, 2012
No Holier Temple is not an album for everybody. This is a deeply hypnotic lo-fi psychedelic musical experience. At once dark and bright, melodic and ambient, hard and soft. This recording sounds as if it came out of 1967 or 68.
It is very exciting that in an age where most “head music” falls into the techno, electronic, chill, downtempo genres, a band is exploring other types of sounds. There are no pumping gated bass drums here. No echo laden waveform synths. This music is rooted in the rich, distorted round analog realm.
I had never heard Hexvessel and am astounded by the originality of the music.There are direct influences of bands like Amon Düül II, Joe Byrd and Field Hippies, HP Lovecraft and King Crimson as well as many elements of other artists that appear momentarily in the music such as Tom Waits, The Beatles, Black Sabbath, The Doors. Hexvessel never directly copies the sound of any of these artists, instead drawing on them as herbs in a sonic stew of their own making.
The album opens with “Heaven and Earth Magic” an acoustic incantation of sorts. Preparing the listener for the journey. This is quickly followed by “Woods to Conjure” with classic muddy crunch guitar, drums and bass. Setting a tone for rich vocals harmonies and trumpet accompaniment. The timbral qualities of this recording are exactly what the listener wants and expects of this sort of music. The attention to the detail of sound sculpture really sets this recording apart.
“Wilderness Is” has a lilting chamber quality to it and serves as an extended introduction to “A Letter in Birch Bark”. A song that blends a wonderful rich male vocal performance with earthy guitar and organ. “Elegy to Goyahkla” is another short work that conveys the listener to the classic psychedelic sounding “His Portal Tomb”. This ten minute piece brings forth distorted heavy tones mixed with flute and vocals, with drones of sound pulsing in waves. Having reached this far into the album, the listener is now treated to what starts as a simple guitar motif turned into some dark germanic carnival music on “Are You Coniferous”.
“Sacred Marriage” again finds that deep psychedelic rock sound, not heavy but deep. While “Dues to the Dolemen” finds Hexvessel creating the sounds of invocation with spoken word over acoustic instrumentation followed by a droning instrumental riff.
The opus “Unseen Sun” clocks in at nearly thirteen and a half minutes. This work sums up the whole album experience in a single piece of music with great vocal parts, extended droning riffs that carry the listener on waves sound. This is the music that brings the listener full circle from where the journey began.
The last cut on No Holier Temple is a cover of “Your Head is Reeling” by Ultimate Spinach. I actually prefer this version to the original. And though I really love the recording it feels that it does not completely belong on this record. This song has a great jam in the middle. I would love to hear Hexvessel put out an entire album in this vein.
As I stated in the beginning, No Holier Temple is not an album for everybody. However if you do enjoy that lo-fi sound of a psychedelic yesteryear, check this album out.
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