The End Records

Spirits Of The Dead

SOTD

When “Norway’s finest psychedelic-stoner-folk-band” Spirits of the Dead, released their eponymous debut album in 2008, few could have been more surprised than the band of the albums overwhelming reviews.

Crowned with a place in Classic Rock Magazine’s “The Best Albums of the Year”, their second album ‘The Great God Pan’ somehow evoked a both retrospective and futuristic quality and made it clear that something was in the making. The band claimed they were “mixing the Sound of the Past with the Sound of the future”. Well…

Now it s 2013, and Spirits of the Dead are about to raise the stakes. “Rumours of a Presence” digs deeper and goes to even more profound places than the band has ever been before. Recorded in remote districts of Norway, this grand record lingers on the big questions: Life, Death and the Sea. Well, to be honest…Death and the Sea, really.

Sometimes it is hard to be an optimist. Here in the privileged Western world, we live in an age where most people spend their entire lives transfixed by glittering pixels on a smartphone screen, seemingly impervious to everything else that is going on around them, immune to the magic that sparkles and flashes in the air, even dead to the provocative crackle of synapses hidden within their own weather-beaten skulls. But that magic definitely exists, because I’ve heard it and felt it. It exists in the music of Spirits Of The Dead, the modern era’s most skilled and soulful psychedelic rock protagonists and the keepers of the ancient flame of altered sonic states. It exists elsewhere too, of course, but Spirits Of The Dead are a band that have taken up permanent residence in the shadowy recesses of my restless mind. These Norwegian seers may seem to fit neatly into that cosy cabal of retrogressive rock ‘n’ roll bands that are in permanent nostalgic thrall to the great guitar-driven works of the late 60s and early 70s, and yes, there is definitely a superficial adherence to that arcane code buried deep within the songs that they have presented to the world thus far. But there is something else going on here, something idiosyncratic and mesmerising, something that defies description and dares the imagination to throw off its shackles to the known and the now. Maybe that magic lurks in the valves and wires of the analogue equipment that gives Spirits Of The Dead their timeless but timely sound. Maybe it lurks in the gaps between the warm, distorted tones that resonate every time this band pick up their instruments and channel their unerring creative pulse. Maybe it cannot be found at all. It matters not, because Spirits Of The Dead have drawn inspiration and solace from a bottomless well of musical inspiration, harnessing the riffs and melodies and subtly intricate arrangements of the fines psychedelic and progressive rock and filtering it all back through the prism of their own brilliant creativity. This is music that matters and moves. These are songs that surround you like the warmth of a brightly-coloured cloak amid the icy, hostile squall of life’s never-ending blizzard. These are songs that send waves of exhilarating electricity through your bloodstream, causing your heartbeat to quicken and your limbs to flail in breathless pursuit of spectral grooves yet to be tamed. Sometimes it is hard to be an optimist, but when Spirits Of The Dead are plugged in and letting the magic flow through their fingertips, this moment in time feels like something to be celebrated, the future looks bright and the world is a weird, wild and wonderful place. All you need to do is listen…

Dom Lawson

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