Atom Heart Mother was the fifth studio album released by the greatest band that has ever graced the face of this earth. It was the definition of psychedelic ambient rock at its finest. The album was released about three years before the iconic Dark Side of the Moon and over nine years before we’d be graced with the Waters epic The Wall.
Before you jump down my throat about blasphemy toward the British band led by the incomparable guitarist demi-god, I have good reason for the association spanning 42 years and over 5700 miles. Though Mapquest doesn’t think you can get to one from the other, I assure you there is a definitive sound that has reappeared.
Cobalt Blue is a Brazilian psychedelic rock band. Let that sink in for a moment. When I first received word that this style was even possible, I was tearing at my imagination to understand the concept. To which I relentlessly tried to somehow associate samba with some form of LCD infused tie-dye session. Luckily I didn’t need to strain my brain too hard, I simply hit play; and what was to follow was enlightening and memorable.
The five track EP comes in at just over 25 minutes, a far cry from the 53 plus minute aforementioned psychedelic groundbreaker. Recorded in a “peaceful site where the nature reigns,” the trio of Felipe Canan (backing vocals and percussion), Guilherme P. Colossi (backing vocals, guitars and bass) and Júlio H. Miotto (lead vocal, guitars, bass, keys and flute) has comprehensively compiled more into five tracks than most can do in fifteen.
Playing to the ambient and empty Still a Natural Condition drifts upon echoing build-ups and simplistic riffs. “Dawning Lights,” the opening track, unobtrusively welcomes you into the realm of the Brazilian Psychedelic mind; without the necessity of drugs. Each track melds into the next with grace and finesse making this an album worthy of vinyl or at the least, headphones. Hints of accent come through with Miotto’s vocals in the English lyrics as he sings Barrett-like lyrics most notably in “Blind We Remain.” Combing the ethereal vocals, haunting bass, backing sounds of rain falling and simplified jazz dancing upon the ivories and Cobalt Blue is on to something great.
The one and only thing separating Still a Natural Condition from borderline epic is, sadly, the last five and a half minutes of the EP. The thrash metal vocals and inexplicable hard rock turn taken at the end of “The Eloquent Bawl” feels incredibly out of place and stunningly kills the mood. Though it is a good song in its own right, I’ve taken to excluding it entirely from my listening as to not distort my experience.
Cobalt Blue is not attempting to become a band which plays it safe. For that I applaud them. Their EP is both incredibly impressive and, coming from someone who cannot live a day without thinking of Pink Floyd, a fantastic addition to the genre. Bands like this are hard to come by anymore and to this caliber of talent they should be watched.