Ideosphere – Black Hole Transmissions …   Leave a comment

As part of my post-mortem Sludge Swamp (R.I.P.) dig (or “Sludge Swamp Legacy Series” if you want to get epic), I stumbled across this very interesting, very underrated and by-and-large awesome band. It suits the rightfully-deserved fame of the Swamp and deserves our attention.

Now, first thing’s first: Ideosphere is a four-piece band from New Jersey who play retro rock with heavily pronounced psychedelic, and more nuanced doom influences. There are other stuff in there as well, as these genre-benders also have a touch of progressive rock in their blend, and they have taste enough to remove all that is superfluous about prog rock and keep all the functional, good parts. They do also possess a slight bluesy feel, but all those influence-labels are watering down the actuality that they just have awesome, if retro-sounding, music. The songs are usually centered around “central riffs” and usually lead to spacey, bluesy, psychedelic passages and drawn-out solos that lull you in; along with quirky bass lines and quite delicious drumming. Add to that the fact that the lyrics always tell self-contained little stories, and you’ve got a winning combination.

The ride starts off with “Murgatroyd to Heavens” and while the Yogi Bear reference may throw you off at first glance, don’t fret, it’s an incredible starter and displays what the band’s capable of right from the start. It’s a pure-bred rock number with a catchy riff for an opener, a heavier chorus and overall playful, impressive use of melody and riffs. Then, it hits a bridge part where the band displays psychedelic skill and inclination, with a keyboard-laden sound scape setting the backdrop for a very nice, groovy solo. The band follows that up with “F.O.G. (Fear of God)” which is where they wear their doom influence on their sleeve and hold it up so we can see it. Also making an appearance is a very real space rock influence in the keyboards. The guitars are heavier and groovier, and the whole thing leads up to a section wherein subtle and melodic passages are overlaid with a speech (done in a Southern accent to boot) about damnation is delivered. Both cheesy and incredibly effective.

Next up is “Bad Bob”, about a biker kid, aptly named Bob and his misadventures. It’s a fun biker song if I ever heard one, with hard rock and blues influences displayed by the dozen. It starts out like a creepy, atmospheric, brooding piece but quickly gains that desert vibe. It lumbers on, all groovy and chillin’, until suddenly “Bad Bob welcomes us all to hell” and the band pulls out all stops on the rock and the prog. It’s incredible the way it shifts gears and drags you with it. But all skill and beauty there aside, then comes the real high point. “Complicated” is one of the easier songs on the album, as it stands out from the first few chords of the riff and never let’s go. It’s bass and keyboard verses to harder-hitting, doomier and slower choruses are incredible, and it’s one of the best songs ever, let alone one of the best songs on the album. The main riff is catchy as all hell and it WILL get stuck in your head, but it serves to lull you into a sense of security (false) until the band suddenly kicks into prog-rock gear and polishes the hard-hitting passage with a skillful solo before returning to the base of the song. Incredible. Next comes the most evanescent song of the album, however, titled “Fantasma.” It’s a drawn-out, ballad-like song that always flies over my head at every listen. It’s by no means inadequate, and in fact it’s a nice track on its own right and has its very nice moments, but where it shines is near the end where it hits a psychedelic hill and starts to climb it.

Then comes the part where the band puts on their best anti-corporate punk attitude with “Broken Bones” in which they threaten to break our bones because (or in the event that) we are “corporate swine.” Won’t argue the point, but it is one neat track. It’s got thundering drums, a very catchy and groovy chorus, shouted insults and a promise of broken bones all set to the backdrop of a pure-blood rock track, which has its prog moments but is by-and-large a subtle, incredible stomper that raises the pulse after “Fantasma”s rather chill-out air. It’s also got this memorable, quirky, slap-and-pop bass line during it’s solo passage, which tickles my ears every time, believe you me.

“Herman!” is the closer to the album, and what a closer it is. Clocking in at a very comfortable 8 plus minutes, the song is about a poor kid (named Herman, if you couldn’t guess) who hears voices and kills his mom when she tells him to “put down the knife!” It’s a psychedelic, trippy piece that alternates between ambient passages, circus-like melodies and quirky grooves, all the while preparing us for the moment when Herman loses his marbles, because as he does, he drags the band along with him. That’s where Ideosphere simultaneously fires on all cylinders and starts laying, out of nowhere, heavy slabs of sludge-y, ten-ton chords. A brilliant change of pace to say the least and the song itself comes to a close with discordant voices whispering. Gives me chills every time. It’s the good kind of scary.

So what is the mark on this? Are you kidding me? “Black Hole Transmissions” is an instant and as-of-yet underrated classic. I was at three different albums, trying to decide which to focus on next when this one came and it took over my world. Yeah, THAT good. Get it, buy it, listen to it, stream it, steal it, whatever you do, acquire and listen to this album. It’s 9.9/10, and that’s me restraining myself.

Review Written By Sarp Esin

Ideosphere @ Bandcamp


Posted June 26, 2011 by doommantia in Ideosphere

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