Reflections In The Bowels Of A Bird

Written by: AP on 17/05/2015 17:46:45

When the undersigned stumbled across the promotional push for Abrahma's sophomore album "Reflections in the Bowels of a Bird", it caught the eye for three reasons: its puzzling title, the exceptional artwork by Jalón de Aquiles, and the Parisian quartet's signature with Detroit, MI-based independent niche label Small Stone Records, whose keen ear for exciting artists practicing in the stoner, psychedelic and classic rock genres has produced for me a wealth of revelations in the past. It is one of those records designed to tout itself like a peacock in courtship; to tempt its way onto your vinyl shelf by virtue of brilliant accolades. Now, whether or not the contents within justify its inclusion there, remains to be seen over the course of the next few paragraphs.

Abrahma's pocket ace is the sense of ritual in the band's music, derived from Hindu mysticism and Caribbean voodoo both of which are cited as influential to shaping the French quartet's soundscape. Despite failing to impress during its first half, "Omens, Pt. 1" provides an apt example, spiraling into an illustrious crescendo from the halfway mark, in which the more traditional, wah-wah based guitar solo of Guillaume Colin intertwines with the piercing wail of a zurna sampled by frontman Seb Bismuth, to summon an otherworldly, psychedelic jam. You will hear this approach deployed in "Fountains of Vengeance" and "Omens, Pt. 2" as well, and it makes you wish Abrahma were more consistent in utilising this effective weapon elsewhere across the record.

Because honestly, "Reflections..." suffers from a number of shortcomings that significantly reduce its overall potential. The record spends an absurd amount of time wallowing before flashes of distinction begin to manifest, first near the end of the already mentioned "Omens, Pt. 1", and since in the following "Weary Statues", which injects much needed nerve to the proceedings at last. The song is quite reminiscent of Mastodon's early output with its ominous low-end rumble, urgent reverb-powered vocals, groovy signature riff and odd timing, and without question the choicest cut from the record. The hastier "Square the Circle" is another worthwhile pick, delivering instant allure with a lead spruced with overdrive and wah-wah effects, interspersed with short, spaced out solo bits in key places.

But much of the record's 52 minutes of runtime is occupied by conventional stoner doom that, while never subpar per se, offers little to facilitate remembrance. Most of it is atmospheric enough to conjure a sensation of floating through space - but without the spectacle of galactic clouds, supernovas and their ilk that would transform it into a life-changing experience. The final two minutes of atmospheric grandeur in the final track "Conium" are thus the only other nugget of promise speckled throughout "Reflections...", making it a frustrating and inconsistent listening experience. It is plain for anyone to see that Abrahma are capable of writing distinguished songs, but they must show greater focus in whisking the heavy doom, the space tripping and, crucially, the oriental mysticism together and develop a recognisable identity.


Download: Omens, Pt.1; Weary Statues; Square the Circle
For the fans of: Demon Head, Kings Destroy, Moonless
Listen: Facebook

Release date 12.05.2015
Small Stone Recordings

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