Föllakzoid - Föllakzoid II
With five songs over the course of 45 minutes and a title like II you could suspect Föllakzoid to be paying homage to prog-rock bands of the 70s. Musically however, Föllakzoid are pitched somewhere between krautrock, kosmische trance and the bleak yet mesmerising psych-rock of Spacemen 3 and Loop. As you may have guessed from that title, this is their second album, the follow-up to their self-titled release from 2009, and it is one of the finest records I've heard in this genre for a long time.
The band formed in Chile out of "a trance experience between friends, sort of a soul abduction in which they’ve been living since 2008." The four of them have known each other since they were children and they all work in artistic and creative roles in their native Santiago. At their first practice they played for two hours solid and didn't speak to each other.
Their publicity blurb states that "They believe that there is some sort of gravitational force that makes South America able to dialogue directly with other places, times, and dimensions... They take their times recording albums, generally allowing two years in between perfecting their songs with their goal being to make something organic, that breathes on its own, which integrates into part of a separate, higher and bigger living organism." Statements like that and track names such as 'Rivers' and 'Trees' make me think of bands with similar philosophies like the spiritual ambience of Popul Vuh or the raw organic metal of Wolves in the Throne Room.
The pulse at the start of album opener '9' gives way to some intense yet steady 4:4 drumming, worthy of the time Steve Shelley joined forces with Neu's Michael Rother, and the whole thing is overlaid with swathes of garage-psych guitars. The vocals are distant and covered in reverb, very much in the vein of Spacemen 3 or Suicide.
'Rivers' is again powered by the drums, which sketch out a funky Can-like pattern, whilst synths sweep in and out and guitars howl and decay. 'Trees' is another uptempo tune featuring those propulsive motorik rhythms with an almost blues-like guitar refrain breaking through, and is probably the strongest song here.
'99' is a slower melodic piece, seemingly unrelated to the opening track, yet the drums still pound and the guitars and synths still weave patterns around them. This time the vocals seem lost even further down that tunnel of reverb.
'Pulsar (extended version)' is the longest track at fifteen minutes, and is perhaps the spaciest. The bass line, not the drums, propels it along. The repetition sounds like an ancient pattern, a pulse from long ago, while the band gradually build on it. This may be a quarter of an hour long but it doesn't feel like it, these guys aren't into repetition for the sake of it, in fact they are repeating the mantras and trances within their music and making it into something special.
Whether you like 70s krautrock or current psych acts like Wooden Shjips, you should endeavour to hear this album; it is a valuable addition to the genre.