It’s no secret that the realms of jazz are a wasteland were experimentalism and surreal music are the usual taxa you’ll find under a rock. And above it. And hanging from a few trees. And munching on the moss plastering the galena rocks recently excavated by a couple of arguing Ettins.
As all wild animals with no social security know, there will be some disease around. Some of these creatures made up of syncopated rhythms and vibrato pedals will have in them a nematode hooked up inside their intestinal tracts, feeding from their blood and using it to fuel their own genre. If you gave said parasites instruments and put them in a Petri dish sized studio (with some high quality glucose for their downtime munchies), you get Hookworms.
If this sounds like a ramble, it is. The strange nature of Hookworms‘ self-titled EP lends itself to write a cheap sixth-form quality review (which is probably two forms higher than my usual review).
The four tracks contained in this self-titled EP, released on tape (!) on Sun Ark records, are like psychedelic jams, where sound supersedes reason and rhyme left the building two salvia hits ago.
From the initial feedback that starts ‘Medicine cabinet’ (and flows wildly for the rest of the jam), Hookworms indulge in a slightly droney form of psychedelia, where voices are only echoes in the distance, probably from an acid flashback.
Carrying everyone around is the bass with its hooky lines, sometimes thumping, always throbbing. Guitars, drums and keys follow around, but never leading. Songs bleed into each other and if you’re not paying attention, the 25 minutes or so just feel like one big long song, always flowing with good musical ideas (and some deluded voice rants, just adding to the creepy-hippie atmosphere).
‘Teen dreams’ is cyclical, almost becoming a “normal” song, but then going for the trippy atmosphere (and noisy breakdown) that makes it a surreal experience. Now, if you have the tape edition, this is probably when you flip sides, kinda represented on the digital edition as a bit of silence between ‘Teen Dreams’ and ‘I have some business out west’ (memories of a little skit by Tom Petty come to mind).
‘I have some business out west’ follows suit with the jam atmosphere (and I do stress atmosphere). The sound of Hookworms is atmosphere (but not muzak) and that’s what you need to remember when approaching this release. It all goes for the major payoff with the aptly titled ‘Resolution’, where several ideas are re-used (as a motif) and the breakdowns are rockier and heavier.
It’s a weird affair, and maybe a throwback to an era a lot of us have read about but never will experience (unless you have a pocket watch and your name is Richard Collier) . Take it as a tribute to a sound of yore or to a group wanting to find what the hoopla is about, but it’s a good psychedelic trip to the wasteland of the weird*.
Words: Sam J. Valdés López
*No, I’m not high while writing this. Now go read ‘Bid time return’. Matheson rules.