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Avatar (Dig) CD, Import
The follow-up to "Blue Cathedral" is an earthy, more accessible, and downright beautiful album. "Avatar" veers from swinging, bluesy explorations to piano-laced, progressive power balladry to pure tribalism, evoking everyone from the Allmans to Quicksilver to Procol Harem to some insane Fela/Sun Ra/Crazy Horse hybrid, yet remains wholly Comets On Fire. Though they play cleaner and clearer, their firepower is evident and abundant.
What we have here is pretty simple: Men with beards. Blistering blues-rock riffs. Songs that refuse to die. On its fourth album, Comets on Fire takes the very foundation of rock 'n' roll (well, from the good years on) reheats it and serves it back up in gargantuan portions. We're talking the eight-minute solo-heavy opening track, which roughly approximates what it would have sounded like if the Stooges ever jumped on stage with the Grateful Dead. Produced just as well, too. Yes, this Santa Cruz quintet that shares member Ben Chasny with Six Organs of Admittance might occasionally qualify for jam-band status, but give them some credit. Phish could never come up with songs as euphorically ugly as "Lucifer's Memory" and "Hatched Upon the Age." --Aidin Vaziri
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Tr.1"Dogwood Rust "を始めとし、ほとんど全ての楽曲において自然発生的に沸き起こる、タフなリズム隊を基調とした屈強なセッションがとんでもなくカッコ良い。何とも言えぬ色香を放つEthanのボーカリゼーションもまた素晴らしく、暗闇の中を浮上するキーボードの旋律とともに強烈な磁場を形成している。逆巻く怒涛の音塊に引きずり込まれ、引き回され、脳内をぐっちゃぐちゃに攪拌されるこの快楽。前作からまた大きく一歩、階段を上がった感のある快作。
Definitely a Bay Area-influenced band, their geographical location fits the band's 1969-71 influences. They never precisely recall-- but they continue the often-maligned and only recently re-examined and respected, striving, spirit--of the bands of this era that took the acid rock and moved it away from hippie vibes into more obsessively introverted aural and intellectual byways. That they create this music while living out in the countryside is no accident. It feels rooted, Americana for those who don't wear Stetsons but may wear boots! This is smart music, done in an organic way so that songs unfold and emerge slowly, and the pacing is not for the impatient. My four-star rating is earned since the band tends towards a bluesier foundation here than I prefer, but for others this may well be a strength this album around. Listening, I became at first disappointed in the more strictly paced song rhythms, and longed for more skronk. This album holds back rather than rushes towards release. It's rather a tease. But, the album forced me into its own march (like a Kubrick film), and I had to follow and slow down.
This may be a good place to start for those new to CoF. It's more accessible than Blue C or Field Recordings from the Sun [what a great album title], yet shows the band continues to put care and thought into this premeditated (in more ways than one?) exploration of the inner spirit as it wanders disconsolate. It's not as peppy, and much more soulful; while I prefer their second and third albums, I must admit that the continued evolution of this band towards more complex terrain bodes well for its career. I anticipate an even better fifth CD in a couple of years after more contemplation and taping from the band's rural coastal retreat.
frankly, bought it for "Lucifer's Memory" and while the other tracks aren't as memorable to me, they're still good.
Comets on Fire are dense. Blue Cathedral was a punishing wall of noise. Listening to it I felt like one of those explorers in the black and white Tarzan movies equipped with a machete inching through the foliage. However, once you carved out your own path the album rewarded you tenfold. Comets are unapologetically classic rock, but instead of just breaking out the old Hendrix and painting by numbers they added some proto-punk and an echoplex.
Some thought Blue Cathedral was more attitude than it was songwriting, and to them Avatar is the perfect rebuttal. Here the Faces riffs and Robert Plant vocals are slowed down to further reveal the songs to the point where someone who hated Blue Cathedral might actually like Avatar. Don't worry, there's still use of the echoplex, and the songs are drawn from six to eight minutes in length (with one exception), but Comets have traded in some of their feral energy for a more dynamic sound.
Benefiting the most from the new dynamics is the bad acid sounding "Lucifer's Memory," a song that sounds like a flower wilting. There's a certain cadence that plugs along with the chugging vocals pushing the song towards its seven minute mark. It has quickly become my favorite new song of this year.
While there are still some rockers, such as the opener "Dogwood Rust" which sounds as if its beginning should be found somewhere before you pressed play, just as the closer sounds as if it ends before the song has stopped, even these rockers sound less brutal than their predecessors. Only "Holy Teeth" has the same long-haired head banging attitude as Blue Cathedral, and it only lasts three minutes (only a minute in Comets on Fire time).
At almost nine-minutes "Soup Smoke" pushes the limits of pseudo-tribal beats. Instead of punishing noise Comets are pounding repetition into our heads. Just thirteen more seconds and I think I would have had a spiritual vision.
At only six minutes long the closer "Hatched Upon the Age" proves that it takes more than just length to be epic and more than just noise for a crescendo. The miracle of the album is that through all of the interplay between the instruments sometimes it's just a couple of simple repetitive piano keys to bring it all home.
Avatar is easily one of the best releases of '06. Very few bands can bring me back to that feeling I got discovering classic rock bands in middle school. But don't break out your eight tracks and dust off the old bong yet. Unlike most bands, retro is only half of the story for Comets on Fire. Comets on Fire are ultimately timeless. Try as I might, I cannot lump them with all the other seventies rockers, but their sound hardly seems contemporary. It's as if they've found some time wormhole so they can rock on across the ages. I'm there, man, I'm there.