I was a big fan of Big Scenic Nowhere‘s first full-length album, Vision Beyond Horizon, which came out at the tail end of 2020, and I’m pleased to report that it’s largely business as usual for both the band and myself as we enter 2022…
Y’see, their new full length effort, The Long Morrow, set for release next month on the ever reliable Heavy Psych Sounds imprint, sees the desert rock band reprising many of the sounds and feels of that last record, but doing so in a fresh and interesting way to such an extent that, whilst it’s clearly the same artists at work, repetitious activity from the band and ‘heard it all before’ moans from tired old reviewers never come into play. And that’s a great thing to be able to relate to you.
So, whilst the punky blasts evident on that first record are largely absent on this record – the sub-three minute rocker LeDu is about as animated as things get this time around – there are still lashings of that slightly woozy, latent energy in evidence here on the album’s first half as there was last time around. Prime movers Bob Balch and Gary Arce are fine guitarists, very different players for sure but players that have such an understanding of each other that they frequently mesh so well as to sound like a single, twenty-fingered being; and here that understanding is explored on all of the opening four tracks featured. But then it absolutely explodes on the closing epic, the nineteen minute title track.
You could write a book about this track on it’s own, let alone a review; suffice to say that it’s clearly the meisterwerk of the band’s career thus far, but also – to my ever-more fevered mind, at least – one of the most significant tracks you’ll hear in 2022. Balch and Arce are augmented here on guitar by the semi-legendary Reeves Gabrels, a man who knows a thing or two about pushing the accepted limits of what a lead guitar can do after years spent in the company of names as illustrious as David Bowie and Robert Smith, and their orgiastic tradeoffs on this track are a joy to listen to, thoroughly absorbing and fascinating even to a non plank-spanker such as myself.
The constant ebb and flow, the build up and release of tension through the track’s middle section, the fluid, seamless exploration of styles and moods and then the final wigout at the end are all evidence that this is the work not only of students of rock’s rich history, but also of people with the confidence to believe that they can have a hand in shaping it’s future. And that is an incredibly fulfilling thing to be a part of, even if only as a listener. As the track wends it’s way to it’s spacey, post-grunge informed finale, you genuinely feel you are in the presence of something very special indeed. And for that reason, this is a must-hear record.
The Long Morrow releases on 14th January 2022.