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Pan And The Master Pipers Noel Gardner , April 30th, 2018 08:26

Chanting, bagpiping goodness from Héloïse Thibault and Olmo Guadagnoli

And indeed, pipes are very much in the mixer on the debut LP by Zohastre, a duo of French-Italian psychedelicists. Perhaps mercifully, they’re not pan pipes – rather, it’s the immersive, quavering wail of bagpipes which enlivens ‘Strange Starry Night’ and the title track of this five-song scorcher. A smart fit for Zohastre’s general belief in the power of the drone, which they’ve already proved several times over: Héloïse Thibault runs the marvellous tape label ZamZam and records solo as H., Olmo Guadagnoli as Uiutna; both also play in H.U.M. with Mark Wagner.

Pan And The Master Pipers is their crowning musical achievement to date, live drums and analogue electronics interlocking, spiralling and, essentially, rocking without ever sounding rockist. ‘Birds Oracle’ fizzes along in a fashion akin to Excepter or Black Dice at their zenith, with a throbbing synth riff that could have graced some early 90s German trance obscurity; Guadagnoli’s percussion takes a turn for the free and bizarre on the title track, before the sound of the reeds drifts in o’er the misty hills. And ‘Forest, Forest, Forest, Forest, Forest’ spins its heady krautrock rush out for ten minutes, the FX-fucked vocal chanting in the last few of those placing a ritualistic cherry atop a glorious postcard from the European prog/space/noise/psych underground.