Master Musicians of Bukkake - Far West
Psychedelic Rock, Experimental Folk
6 songs (45:01)
Release year: 2013
Master Musicians of Bukkake
Reviewed by Goat

Obviously a knowing wink towards the Master Musicians of Jajouka, this distinct set of master musicians take their music in a different direction. Something of a weird Seattle supergroup, featuring members of Earth, Burning Witch, Grails, Secret Chiefs, and Asva among others, the Master Musicians of Bukkake website describes its sound as ‘like a reverse dark side of the New Age sound’, which sums it up quite well. What not to expect is instant, avant-garde craziness, that band name suggesting all sorts of aural violations – instead it’s much calmer, a look at the world outside with more than a hint of a smile in its eyes…

You won’t mistake this for anything but a serious band, however. Mixing elements of drone, folk, prog, and world music into a strange psychedelic morass, the band has explored Southeast Asian, African and Indian sounds in the past, and here turn away from that to some extent for Far West, their fourth full-length after the well-received Totem trilogy. As you’d expect, Far West moves a little Western in its hunt for influences, adding everything from Canterbury folk to German prog into the mix, with a bit of Wicker Man soundtrack and Goblin in there too. Opener White Mountain Return is the harshest track present, something between drone and noise at first before fading into rhythmic percussion, strummed acoustic guitar and sinister horns – sounding like some Lovecraftian tribal ritual that you’d stumble into in the middle of an ancient forest somewhere.

It’s on the following γη-νομος / Gnomi that the album really takes off, however, the collective vocals and gentle folky swing of the music hiding something more cultlike and sinister. It devolves into keyboard effects then back, becoming catchy in a cheerful, deranged way with an infectious Morricone-like melody, staying with you as the ominous echoes of Arche begin, percussion building up as distant screaming horns and mellotrons (at a guess) create a dark Oriental atmosphere. Cave of Light: Prima Materia is surprisingly epic, building up with cinematic brass and interjecting quirky Melvins-y singing, with some welcome heaviness provided by underlying droning guitar.

Church organ opens the ambient You are a Dream Like Your Dreamer: The Dark Peace, meanwhile, while the closing Circular Ruins seems oddly happy, without the sense of darkness from earlier in the album, group vocals and strummed guitars still bringing a 60s cult to mind; a happy cult, though. It ends on a synth note and a tinkling variety of instruments, triumphant in its weirdness yet almost smiling at the listener, bringing them gently back to earth as it fades away. Clearly a niche appeal album, Far West nonetheless is enjoyable and listenable, the experience and skill of the component musicians shining through. Those with an interest in experimental and ‘world’ music at its most atmospheric should listen.

Killing Songs :
γη-νομος / Gnomi, Arche, Cave of Light: Prima Materia, Circular Ruins
Goat quoted 82 / 100
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