A long ass while ago, I had the pleasure of writing a review of Hookworms. It didn’t get that many visits (I blame my Bid time to return reference) and I wondered what would become of the band. Flashforward to 2013 and they are getting top-notch reviews.
Quite deserving, as Pearl Mystic exceeds expectations. I heard it was going to be good. The initial reviews gushed greatly and when I finally got my filthy hands on the fucking vinyl, I blasted the fucker.
The 90s had Failure, the 10s have Hookworms. Different genres, different set of circumstances, same love for a rich musical aura. Allow me to elaborate.
Failure were a band that pretty much invented a genre called Space Rock and the best way to describe it is: psychedelic grunge. Their first two albums were pretty good, but something felt missing. Then they did an alternate project called Replicants, where they re-worked songs by other artists (I’d hate to call them covers as they deviate too much from the original). The reason to do this? Experiment with studio equipment and get the ropes of recording, mastering and mixing.
If you follow Hookworms on twitter, you might know that one of their members has a studio (where the fantastic Mazes album got mastered and mixed) and you can feel how much this studio experience has helped Hookworms grasp their sound, analyse it as if it were sequential extractions of trace metals from contaminated sediments and then present it in a pleasing format, where psychedelia, kraut rock and sonic experimentation meet.
‘Away towards’ might last 8 minutes, but you barely feel them, as the atmospheric piece has an urgent pace that never slows down. ‘Form and function’ is a cocktail of effects, all perfectly balanced. A constant tremolo is there for you, in the left channel, while the guitar solo has a cosy lil’ nest on the right channel. There’s somewhere an echo repeating itself too, from time to time, spiralling like a golden ratio out of control, clearly as chaotic as the end of the song.
And then it hits. ‘i’, one of several ambient segues, is a drenching wave of sound, encompassing your very soul, surrounding in a sweeping manner. This is the moment where it all falls into place and when it gets more eerie, it segues out into ‘In our time’, one of the best tracks in this collection. Slow burning and with a quiet sexy bass line, it’s a gorgeous number (hexadecimal base, of course).
Like I said, the songs are long but don’t overstay their welcome. The one “rock out” moment might arguably be ‘Preservation’, a song climaxing with a utterly devastating solo. Segue ‘ii’ might not be as loud as anything else in the record, but it certainly feels unsettling enough to let the magick-fuelled ‘What we talked about’ sway slowly in a forest of succulents and joshua trees. ‘iii’ is a swansong, Hookworms style.
Do you ever wondered if Psychedelic music went away? Not really, it’s a genre that waxes and wanes, but when it shines, it overwhelms the sun. Pearl Mystic is a very solid album and if you enjoy what Hookworms have so passionately put to record here, I do recommend you check Psychic Ills, People of the North and Oneida. Careful – You can overdose with this music (but what a way to go, cuate).
Words: Sam J. Valdés López