Typing the title The Horse And Other Weird Tales, I accidentally wrote ‘takes’ instead of ‘tales’ and laughed. The world is full of so many bad hot takes lately and thankfully Jess and the Ancient Ones‘ new record feels like it could save people from illusions while also inspiring psychedelic spiritual autonomy and rebellion. Sorely needed!
Record number three from the powerful psych band sees the group forging ahead and sounding more like they jammed out the whole record in a powerhouse ritual bonding than ever before. “(Here Comes The) Rainbow Mouth” and “Shining” cast upbeat persistent hypnosis that loosens the limbs and brings you into the expanding lotus-like world of the Ancient Ones’ sound as they explore. There is nothing as darkly unhinged and intense as “The Equinox Death Trip” but the album makes you feel amazing and will open your mind wide. It really feels like witnessing history in the re-making, in that it sounds like vintage 60’s glory but the band are well into their own mythology.
Sheer brilliance and lightning in a bottle takes abound. Actually HOT “takes”.
“Your Exploding Heads” has an amazing almost post punk intro before smoothly transitioning into a stunning opening verse section, the group fully in control of the build up that allows for the chorus to explode like the head in the title. 9 songs and 31 minutes, recorded and mixed together with their live sound engineer made for an experience not often captured by timid bands. Clutch’s records like Jam Room or the masterful Robot Hive/Exodus capture the kind of loose and yet super in the zone feel I am trying to convey, simply from that famed band playing together live and becoming psychic. This Jess and the Ancient Ones record has a similar spirit of intuition and innovation but feels more ‘in the moment’, if that makes sense.
“You And Eyes” is maybe my favorite, a chill yet confidant boogie that just feels so cool and good. The philosophical sampled spoken word segments on this album really vibe with the tunes instead of feeling gimmicky. The experimental psych jazz meets Floyd via Big Brother and the Holding Company-esque 4 and a half minute mark section of this tune will keep you flying free and easy but tuned in. There’s a warm and bluesy feel to parts of this song that is pitch perfect. Jess’ vocal performance on this tune and really the whole album feel like a huge victory. If the act never made another record the work they have done so far would already classify them as a very notable act.
“Radio Aquarius” is a song I wish the whole American public could chill out to right now, as raw and beaten up as we are lately. It makes you feel how some of the world’s problems and mysteries have remained unsolved since, say, the Vietnam War through the present day and that there is a heart of darkness always at war with the diamond awakening of consciousness expansion. “Return To Hallucinate” will make you feel hopeful and like you can hopefully keep painting your dreams for a better world through any hardships to come if we all keep faith in one another, clap and dance. There’s also a scorching fuzzy solo in that one and brilliant keys that are super addictive.
“Anyway The Minds Flow” seems to signal to outsiders to remember that while they might feel braced against the system and the world, they are also free from the constraints of conformity and just might carve their own fate. The Catcher In The Rye is evoked and hearkens to the courage to step forward into a bold decision. Time’s river flows by and you can interact as you choose, swept up in the times or making them react to you. But we all spin on the mandala. So alone or together we all are together and interconnected anyway and might as well try and make the best of it. The best part is, this album is going to be a gift that keeps on giving new delights with every listen, revealing more lessons, layers and love.
Surrendering can be hard but magical things just might happen.