For those who dwell in the world of psychedelic rock, the music always tries to be an event larger than itself. That is why most songs are grandiose, sweeping tracks that feel like they go on longer than it takes to bake a potato in the oven at the lowest setting. For the musicians and for the fans of the genre, these songs are not to be simply listened, but to be experienced (with our without the assistance of psychedelics).
In the genre, it is extremely difficult to delineate those fans from the bands. Bands like the Grateful Dead, Rat Dog, Widespread Panic and Phish carry the baggage of an overzealous fan base that is just as much a part of the group as the members (especially at live shows). But the fans love the songs, and the bands love to play music, or else they wouldn’t have a thirty minute jam sessions where they noodle around on their instruments.
With Cobalt Blue, one of Brazil’s psychedelic rock representitives we are treated to a blank slate. I can listen to their trance-like rock without seeing visions of kids on Ecstasy with hacky sacks. I may be just a few years away from yelling at kids to get off my lawn.
Middle-age codgery aside, Cobalt Blue’s debut, Still A Natural Condition, is a lot of fun to listen to. A five track EP labeled as “psychedelic rock” could be five tracks that all sound the same, but not here. Their album is a pupu platter of sounds and an evolution of the musical niche. The album starts with watery guitar tones which transition into the next track, which takes a turn with a wailing guitar solo synonymous with the genre in “Autumn.” The other tracks offer a full spectrum of sounds from experimental rock complete with flutes, native drums and keyboards showcasing their range in “Vapor Juice” and a mellow trip in “Blind We Remain.” The EP takes an unexpected turn in the final track, “The Eloquent Bawl,” a seven minute foray into the path bands like Tool blazed in the previous decade, complete with a vocal tip of the cap to Mike Patton.
The tracks come across as a fun twenty-six minute trip through the annals of a trippy musical style. Cobalt Blue seem like they are having tremendous fun acting as scientists of sound and their instruments as their lab equipment. The only drawback to their debut is the production value; the mix is a little off and vocals feel superimposed on top of the tracks instead of part of them. But in terms of putting their foot in the door, Cobalt Blue has put out a great demo tape for the 21st century. If you like psychedelic rock, you will like what is happening in Brazil right now.
Jump on this bandwagon before it fills up with some crazy passengers, especially the ones with hacky sacks. And if they put a sugar cube in their mouth and try to tell you they see a moose dressed up in a suit and campaigning for president, just smile, nod, and enjoy the music. It’s all you can do.
Cobalt Blue – Still a natural Condition by CobaltBlueband