Southern California scuzz-rockers Residual Echoes – the work of one Adam Payne – kick up a seriously psychedelic racket on their self-titled debut release. Originally pressed in an extremely limited vinyl edition, Holy Mountain has now made the record available to the masses.
Payne is buddies with current psych darlings Comets on Fire and Six Organs of Admittance, and it’s not difficult to tell why such groups would be enraptured by the Echoes’ cranked-up splatter. Even eternal wild man and underground rock god Julian Cope has fallen under the group’s spell. Last January, he posted a panting, 1600-word review of the LP on his site www.headheritage.co.uk.
Composed of seven songs that clock in well over 40 minutes, the record is filled with extended jams that go everywhere fast, often darting and curving through a prog-worthy number changes. Taken as songs, these pieces can test the patience of the listener. Yet, Residual Echoes’ music isn’t meant to be evaluated by the same standards as even that of mellower, more ‘pop’ acid-eaters such as Dead Meadow. Like Comets on Fire, or fellow California psych-punk legends Monoshock, the group fires on all cylinders straight for the center of the sun. Ignoring studio polish or recording wizardry, they focus solely on tossing out lick after lick of snarling, shuddering rawk.
The 13-minute opener “Slant” begins with a flurry of free-jazz drumming and unstable walls of feedback before rocketing into a red-lined guitar roar. Payne spits and shrieks into the mic, sometimes moaning like a junked-up bluesman, at others mumbling like Iggy Pop with mouth full of blood. Six and a half minutes in, the tune dissolves in a wail of noise and reemerges as a haunted, free-form workout. After 10 minutes, Payne breaks any sense of calm by adding a totally fucked horn solo and a hail of horrific screams.
“Diamond Drops” starts with a mellow acoustic guitar and feedback groove. As Payne steps on his pedals, the song takes flight, stretching out into an expansive thrash. Slowly, Payne works his guitar into a gale-force rush of screaming strings, rocking harder and harder until it seems his amps will combust. “A STARDT 3 & 3 1/2” utilizes a krautrock throb – if an incredibly sloppy, lo-fi one – to create a head nodding pulse that is drowned out by upper-register whooshes and headache inducing leads.
Residual Echoes’ music sounds as if it was made by a band of mangy misfits let loose inside a warehouse filled with broken instruments. Sick solos are played on guitars that sound like they haven’t had their strings plucked in years. Amps buzz and rattle as if being torn apart by the sound pulsing through them. It’s a heavy, if oddly beautiful, madness, and one that deserves to be heard.
By Ethan Covey