Acid King/The Mystick Krewe of Clearlight
split (Man’s Ruin)
by Brian Varney
Two of the brighter stars in the stoner universe, together at last. This struck me as a good idea when I first heard about it, and now that I own it, I can confirm that it was indeed a damn good idea.
Acid King is a very slow, very heavy three-piece with wailing female vocals. Not much happening in the way of actual songcraft, but if that’s the sort of thing that floats your boat, you probably wouldn’t touch this with a ten foot pole anyway. However, one thing that sets Acid King apart from the legions of heavy doom bands is the fluidity of their sound. Plenty of bands play this heavily at tempos this slow, but very few make it breathe like Acid King. The grooves are simple and fluid with plenty of space, and the heavily-echoed vocals wail but don’t shriek. Lori doesn’t sound like she’s in pain, which is quite a welcome relief in this particular sub-genre (if you’ve heard Burning Witch, you’ll know what I’m talking about). The songs are very basic in form and very long (the shortest is just under eight minutes), but the effect is strangely hypnotic. An Acid King song is kinda like the sound of someone nodding off, and I don’t know about you, but I wanna hear that sort of thing every now and then. And when I do, this is where I’ll come. I also recommend last year’s excellent Busse Woods CD, also on Man’s Ruin.
Mystick Krewe of Clearlight are another one of those damn New Orleans bands featuring members of Crowbar, Eyehategod, etc. etc. Unlike the unrelenting heaviness of those bands, though, Clearlight is an all-instrumental jam band. Their self-titled debut, now available on Tee Pee Records, is full of swampy, highly improvisational Hammond-organ fuelled heavy rock jams; think Deep Purple meets the Meters. It’s one of the best records of the year. For this split EP, the band is joined on vocals by stoner legend Wino (St. Vitus, Obsessed, Spirit Caravan). Sounds like a match made in heaven, and it is. There’s so much going on in the band’s sound that I thought vocals would be a bit of a distraction, but Wino has a great voice and seems to understand where the band’s coming from, so the whole thing coheres quite beautifully. Both cuts are great, but I like the 11-minute “Veiled” a bit better when the band spins off into a moody, atmospheric instrumental jam for the final seven minutes.
(610 22nd Street #302 San Francisco, CA 94107)