A near-death experience has a way of changing your perspective on things. Everything is different afterwards. Things you thought were important no longer are. Things you took for granted become more precious than gold. Your accomplishments and failures are brought into focus, and you either experience terror, joy, peace, or all three.
Such an experience happened to all three members of Detroit psych-rockers Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor while flying to Greece during a recent tour. The plane depressurized as it began its landing procedure, unleashing oxygen masks and brief panic before the pilots quickly brought the plane under control. As the story goes, a strange calm settled into the entire plane. Strangers shared a bond they never expected and wouldn’t forget. This experience shaped the sound and substance of SOYSV’s new album Lavender Blood.
The weird, almost out-of-tune acoustic guitar opening the album on “Cinnamon Blood” puts a weird angle on the record right away as guitarist / vocalist Sean Morrow sings about prayers and dreams in a voice that sounds like it’s been influenced by Middle Eastern vocalists.
The whole band breaks open on “Die Die Die.” It hits like a wrecking ball with warped guitars, Eric Oppitz‘s pulsing bass, and Rick Sawoscinski‘s Black Sabbath-like drumming. The song is as creepy and chaotic as you’d hope it would be with a title like that. “Sky Greece” follows it, and it’s a mind-bending track with reversed guitar chords appropriate for a song inspired by a moment when the band thought they might be doomed but soon switched to calm euphoria.
“Rocking Horse Brain” is one of SOYSV’s biggest, in terms of spectacle, songs. It opens with forceful guitars and bass and then switches gears (with sharp skill by Sawoscinski) into down-the-rabbit-hole psychedelia. “See You in the Mourning” might be the closest thing to a Velvet Underground track SOYSV have ever written. Morrow’s guitars sound remind me of a lazy cat stretching out in the sun, and Oppitz and Sawoscinski put down one of their best grooves ever.
You can’t help but wonder if the cacophony and roaring cymbals in “Cat Lovers Skull” are a reflection of what was happening in the passenger compartment of that flight to Greece. “Milky Water Jesus” is the shortest song on the album but it has some of the hardest drumming of the album.
I love how the album ends with maximum fuzz. “Rainbow Scarecrow” lies somewhere between psychedelia, funk (listen to that beat!), and shoegaze. I can’t wait to hear this one live.
Lavender Blood is probably SOYSV’s trippiest record so far and well worth your time and money. These guys keep bending and warping sounds in ways I still can’t figure out, but why bother trying? Just sit back and let this record alter your reality. Sometimes you need a jolt to remind you of what’s real and what’s illusion.
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