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Bitchin' Bajas
Bitchitronics Ned Raggett , October 29th, 2013 07:36

Sometime this year the combination of Drag City and Thrill Jockey became the one-two combination of zoned psychedelic epic motorik rock - and feel free to rearrange those words as needed. Not that they were the only ones doing that, nor was it because all the bands on those labels were just doing that, but there just seemed to be one release after another where the spirit of the 60s/70s pioneers, refracted through the great 1990s era of Terrastock festivals and internet community forming, proceeded to reincarnate in a new way.

That may seem a sweeping prelude to talk about just one of those albums, but Bitchin' Bajas, side project of CAVE'S Cooper Crain turned into a full-fledged trio on Bitchitronics, fit clearly into a tradition as much as they are aiming to create their own space. Released in the US in high summer, it feels like it - it's music for a blasted desert where you end up gaining access to a greater consciousness while you're at it. But it's also something not shy about its debts to early Ash Ra Tempel's rampaging meditations, to Harmonia's glazed beauty, much more besides. It's not quite its own thing yet still, but it's the sign of a band gelling well, with Crain's collaborators Dan Quinlivan and Rob Frye happily in the same sphere while aiming beyond it.

Little wonder that there are only four long tracks and less so than that the first is called 'Transcendence'. When its slow ambient feedback murmurings shift first into a steady two guitar chime circular performance with soft variations, then blast further into a huge solo that melts back into those swells, it's practically begging to soundtrack a trip of some sort, psychedelic or otherwise. The concluding 'Turiya' almost extends the trip further, pure UFO/Cosmos drive to the outer reaches via stretches of just aggressive enough tones as a softer, barely heard solo of some sort plays deep in the mix.

A quieter side is embraced on 'Inclusion', gentle feedback as piping soundtracking what sounds like a ramble through one of Roger Dean's more elfin paintings that turns into a watery series of loops - something at once of a past time and maybe just more than a nod to the spaced out textures of so much 21st century hip-hop in turn.  'Sun City', meanwhile, may have a slightly loaded title for those of a certain age, but this really does sound like a city of the sun thanks to an exultant series of drones-as-fanfares that start and shimmer into life, growing stronger and deeper into the day as it goes.

It's at once familiar and something well worth it on its own, the kind of thing that makes you wonder what it's like live, what might happen next.  Sometimes that's all you need.

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