Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Review: Tia Carrera - Heaven/Hell EP

Label: Arclight Records

Released: June 12, 2007

Most stoner rock bands love Black Sabbath and Tia Carrera is no different in that respect. What sets them apart, aside from sheer technical prowess and experimental intuition, is that Black Sabbath isn't the primary trick in their bag. They meld Sabbath's heaviness with Hendrix's psychedelic grooves and Greg Ginn's free jazz punk. The result is staggering, showing that all these things, some started 40 years ago, still have plenty of fresh ground to be traveled by a band with a spirit of exploration and map in their head.

Tia Carrera rein in some (though by no means all) of their experimentation on this album, but they don't lack creativity, they simply reap the rewards of past trips to the edge of the stoner universe and boil it down into a more manageable package. For its entire 33 minute ride (which once upon a time would make this an LP, not an EP), the heaviness of Heaven/Hell is never in question. But its not the crushing and dull heaviness of their peers that merely take Sabbath's slow, heavy dirges to an extreme. Tia Carrera moves. They groove. They rock. They bring technical skill that allows them to channel Hendrix in the way it was intended, not the distilled, clean, easy version we hear so often today. They rip it up, to the point that it seems the experiment may go awry and then they bring it back down into the groove again. Like Black Flag at their most musically genre-shattering, they never lose control and the music never feels boxed in. At any moment it could take off on some rambling passage, losing itself in darkness or in light. It's downright exciting.

Tia Carrera are the stoner heirs of Hendrix. They bring more than just a clear appreciation for his catalog to the table though. They bring his spirit, the heaviness of Sabbath, the wild abandon of Ginn and themselves, a force in their own right, to a scene that likely has no idea what hit it.

Oh yeah, there's no vocals, but don't worry, you won't miss 'em.

Rating: 9/10



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