SAMSARA BLUES EXPERIMENT
The Saviours of Heavy Psychedelic Rock
Words: TK Smith
“These cats put on an extraordinary, mind altering MONSTER show! I cannot even put into words how mesmerizing their set is.” (waylonhatchet.com - San Francisco)
In the general sense, elements of the cosmos fuse together to create a harmonious system. Within its fabric, space can bend and twist using weight for curvature and dimension. Samsara Blues Experiment, a German four piece, use a similar philosophy when channeling their musical forms in extended forays of psychedelic blues-rock. The concept for the band came into focus after guitarist Christian Peters split from space rockers Terraplane in the summer of 2007. By the following year, Peters had recruited second guitarist Hans Eiselt, bassist Richard Behrens and drummer Thomas Vedder from Berlin’s vibrant underground scene. The group’s mixture of stoner rock, psychedelic blues, Indian raga, thrash metal and traditional folk blended together in a swirling haze of electromagnetic energy.
Their organic sound was first captured on a raw 8-track disc before playing concerts in Germany, Italy, Austria and Belgium. With only their demo in hand the four-piece made the bold trek across the pond for a US West Coast tour that extended from Los Angeles to Seattle. Due to popular demand, the demos were independently released in 2009 as USA Demo showcasing a playful dual-guitar blend, retro styled jamming and hypnotic hooks in the tradition of classic krautrock. The band’s dynamic live performance at the rising Yellowstock Festival in Geel, Belgium set the stage for their debut album Long Distance Trip released by World In Sound/Rough Trade Records in March 2010. Lords of Metal from the Netherlands called the outing, “a musical voyage through unknown parts of the universe - as if Syd Barrett, Jimi Hendrix and Dave Brock joined forces and started a travel agency.”
With an official release under their belts, the band hit the road playing with some of the genre’s most influential bands including Hawkwind, Pentagram and Kyuss Lives while sharing festival stages with Orange Goblin, Mondo Generator and Yawning Man. Their debut sold rapidly became one of the most recognized albums of the heavy psychedelic scene and blazed the way for showings at Herzberg Festival, a return to Yellowstock and the mighty Stoned From The Underground. 2011 saw the release of their sophomore LP Revelation & Mystery (also on World In Sound/Rough Trade) a more streamlined, less psychedelic affaire with comparisons to classic-era Black Sabbath. The Obelisk branded it as, “more immediate” and “a direct listening experience unfolding gradually as songs moved from the straightforward into the more subliminal.” Expanded European tours followed including the coveted co-headline slot at Roadburn’s Afterburner with Canada’s Black Mountain.
Attracted by the group’s fuzzed-out doom blues, exotic trippy solos and sonic grooves fans and critics alike gravitate to songs like “Singata (Mystic Queen)” for its seductive middle-Eastern influences and spacey undertones. Peters’ raspy voice, though sparse, is emotionally poignant and reminiscent of a young James Dewar with a menacing growl. The energy and intensity of “Hangin on the Wire” makes it a favorite with live audiences while “Army of Ignorance” and “For The Lost Souls” make use of frequent time-changes allowing the band to create mood through texture and tempo. The thundering “Outside Insight Blues” and “Into The Black” may have their roots in Blue Cheer and Black Sabbath with a doomy blues boogie but are set free in the psychedelic whirlwind of what is the Samsara Blues Experiment.
In 2012 SBE fulfilled their contract with World In Sound/Rough Trade by releasing the Center of the Sun / Midnight Boogie 12”. The EP revisited “Center of the Sun” from the Long Distance Trip debut with a psychedelic backdrop over heavy stoner riffs. The B-side began as a cover version of UFO’s 1970 space rock classic “Boogie (for George)” then morphed into the band’s original jam “Midnight”. The track pulled heavily from Peters early influences of Canned Heat and pre-Michael Schenker UFO. The same year Peters founded his own label Electric Magic Records and reissued USA Demo with an alternative cover design. A heavy touring schedule had the band headlining in nearly every country in European and was crowed with top billing at Kiev’s Robustfest. Thanks to the internet, a growing number of fans have emerged from South America, Mexico, Morocco, India and several Asian countries - foreign territories SBE has yet to play live.
Generating a massive buzz on the strength of two superior studio albums is only part of the SBE experience. The band is widely regarded as a premier live act with each concert becoming an individual revelation. UK webzine The Alter Of Heaviness called them “almighty” as they “launch into a swirling psychedelic, progtastic, bluesy, heavy hypnotic trip…full of colour and energy throwing out soaring euphoric jams as if its the most natural thing in the world.” Germany’s metalpaths.com hailed the band as “the perfect case in balance between vocals and instrumentals” and magically “create a great atmosphere surrounded by heaviness and groove.”
In the spring of 2013, Samsara Blues Experiment released their first live recording SBE ~ Live at Rockpalast. Broadcast on the infamous German music TV station Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR), the group set a standard as one of today’s great live acts in heavy rock. The band is not distinguished as inventors of a new genre but the amalgamation of different styles from psychedelic rock to groove metal. In November 2013 the band delivered their much-anticipated third album Waiting For The Flood released on Electric Magic Records in cooperation with World In Sound distribution. Four tracks and almost 50-minutes long the new disc easily exceeds expectations combining the best of the group’s two previous studio albums while drifting further into mid-‘70s prog rock. Elements of British acts Man, Khan and Camel can be heard in the creative expanse of the individual songs while the occasional southern-style heavy rock of Corrosion of Conformity rattles the cage.
The record kicks in with “Shringara”, a blend of stoner heaviness and southern fried psych with an Indian raga vibe. Peters’ baritone vocals resonate with Zappa-like candor in a celebration of Musique concrete. The album’s title track “Waiting For The Flood” follows as a 12-minute opus composed with an impressive array of jazz arrangements, duel guitar and thundering bass. On the flipside “Don’t Belong” plunges headlong into the quartet’s collective dark side. A doom blues lick snakes its way into an adventurous mid-section that bounces with a funky beat. Closing the disc is “Brahmin’s Lament” a classic heavy blues number with haunting chorus and stunning vocal. Remarkably, in just a few short years, Samsara Blues Experiment has created an exotic original sound that is unique and vibrant, full of physical energy and seductively captivating. On the edge of a musical frontier they transcend the tag of Stoner, Psychedelic or Progressive rock with modern jamming that pulls together cosmic elements and harness pure, metaphysical energy.
Website: Samsara Blues Experiment, Electric Magic Records