Cambrian Explosion – Moon – EP Review

Following their debut EP ‘The Sun’, Cambrian Explosion are back with a new EP entitled ‘The Moon’. From Portland, Oregon, these four incredible musicians have banded together to create a concoction of psych, prog and rock. With pristine production values and carefully constructed pieces of music it is a pleasure to listen to from start to finish.  
Starting with ‘Selene’, a short but effective opener, the sounds are instantly attention catching and touch on the far out sounds that early prog and psychedelic bands were creating in the 60s and 70s – Pink Floyd immediately spring to mind. With a deep bass fading in and out, washy percussion and echoed guitars – this is a lush sounding intro to the EP with plenty of breathing space and ambience.

The next song – ‘Looming Eye’- fades in from the intro with an incredible eastern sound. A clean guitar riff whirls around the air with plenty of character and is joined by a ritualistic vocal part. A brief distortion blast is followed by that same lead riff in full flow with a laid back, loose drum beat and dragged out keyboard notes to help it sail along. A drum fill frenzy makes up the slightly more distorted chorus before we are treated to some serious psychedelic lead guitar intoxication. Through a series of upbeat and more relaxed sections provided by the rhythm section, the lead guitar hits all the right notes as it smoothly enters the listeners psyche. The songs reaches a grand finale – as the voices effortlessly hang above the full bands noise, before coming to an end with more of those lovely, spacey sounds that wrap the song up perfectly.  

Next song ‘Mugen = Mugen’ begins with a more classic 70s rock and roll feel with much more emphasis on the big guitar riff and infectious key sounds. This big instrumental intro is full of wah wah, huge beats and rumbling bass for that perfect big rock sound. The song takes a turn into more gentle, intricate guitar playing then, where the extended space like vocals set the tone. It all continues to be very psychedelic and hypnotic from here on out. It can quite easily be described as progressive as the song flows from section to section, dynamically altering but retaining a certain mood and sound.  

‘Innocuous Creatures’ is next up and this one is something special. Again, sounding particularly eastern in its guitar playing the song begins very gentle and calm. Trippy vocals carry it through a groovy verse with guitar echoes and bass lines reminiscent of desert bands such as Yawning Man and Dark Tooth Encounter. A heavier chorus with big riffs and drum fills causes a change in pace and the influences from harder rocking 60s/70s bands such as Black Sabbath and Deep Purple is shining through here. Straight out of that and into a section that feels like a jam that is happening live, the bass and drums keep it going albeit in a very loose and free flowing way, leaving plenty of space for that kaleidoscopic guitar to worm its way around in free form shapes. It all gets bigger and more intense as it progresses its way back to distorted riffs and pummelling drum mayhem for the huge ending.

Finally, closing the album is ‘Crust of Theia’. This begins with an amazingly optimistic and reflective guitar piece that is blended with the softer backing for a calm and mindful musical experience. Moving into a slow, swaying section the psychedelic grooves soon transform into a guitar driven break that makes use of beefier guitar sounds and repetitively keeps your head nodding back and forward. We are then brought back to experimental noise and percussion with faint speech in the background to bring the EP to its end.

These musicians are creating a sound so smooth and atmospheric that it almost feels as though they were destined to cross each other’s paths. It is not rare to find bands trying to create this sound but it is however rare to find one that does it this well. With two EPs under their belt there is no doubt that they will continue writing excellent songs and bring out more music in the near future.  

Written by Ben Hughes.

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