No-Neck Blues Band & Embryo - EmbryoNNCK (Staubgold LP)
One of the best early surprises of this year was the news that the modern-day psychonauts NNCK were to be teaming up with latter-day psychonauts Embryo for an LP on Staubgold. If you've heard or saw anything the No-Neck Blues Band were responsible for in the past few years, you'll be solidly behind me when I say that they are one of the most interesting and creative groups currently out there (I mean that in both ways). The decade-old collective appear to be at the height of their creative unity. So it was interesting to me to see what kind of new ideas would flourish once I heard about this collaboration. And it does not disappoint.
"EmbryoNNCK" lasts about 45 minutes on record, but the tracks on here are all so tight and of single-vision that I have to wonder if the two groups weren't secretly practicing with each other for months straight, living together, driving each other to soccer practice, etc. I'm sure there's tons of tape left on the recording room floor, but still - these two units sound like they were made for eachother. It's as perfect a krautrock and New Weird America cross-pollination as one could hope for (sorry Acid Mothers Gong!). An absurd amount of instruments (probably communal) frolick and roll over eachother creating numbers ripe with jubilation and ecstacy. Tribal drumthumps, flutes, horns, gamelan (?), piano, marimbas, various noisemakers and even the ol' bass and guitars put in an appearance or two. "Die Farbe Aus Dem All", "After Marja's Cats" and "Five Grams of the Widow" are all pure freaked-out psych-cum-kraut-cum-pop perfection. Things remain all the more captivating when the group slow it down a touch on the distinctly Asian-sounding "Zweiter Sommer", with all its whistling and chanting sounding like something off one of those Sub Rosa "Tibetan Buddhist Rites from the Monasteries of Bhutan" compilations. The last song is a jammer in every sense of its 13 minutes with babbling vocals over a racing drum beat and plucked guitar and violin (?) lines.
All in all this album sounds like something 60/70's psych folkheros like Siloah and Cromagnon couldn't accomplish with all the acid in the world (not for wont of trying, though). "EmbryoNNCK" sounds like the absolute best lost, unearthed psych record not to be released in the genre's golden era. And that's the best compliment I personally can pay these dudes.