Undercover Rabbis - Empires
This set, it’s a five track album (yet over 45 minutes), seems particularly difficult to pinpoint in terms of style. There is a real DIY kind of indie-rock sound to the set. At times it feels closely tied to modern stoner metal, but these guys really stretch far beyond that sound. Space rock like Hawkwind (but on a more garage-type level) might be a better comparison. Ties to psychedelia are heard all over this, too. In a lot of ways, the experimental nature lends to labeling this set as “progressive rock.” It should also appeal to fans of jam band music because it has a lot of common ground with that genre. There are even moments where it seems to touch on world music. It gets more complex when you consider that tuba even shows up in the mix here.
Whatever you want to try to label this as, though, it really defies classification. It’s mostly instrumental, but there are sections with vocals. In some ways, this feels a bit amateurish. That’s primarily due to the recording, which feels like it might have been done “live” in a studio environment. That said, since there are just three guys, while the basic tracks might have been live recordings, it obviously required overdubs. It’s a bit muddy and just feels less than the type of quality with which a lot of listeners would be comfortable. In addition, there a couple points that seem like they left some flubs in the performances. In addition, the vocals can be a little hard to take at times.
The truth is, though, these guys are really experimental and very interesting in their musical adventures. This is clearly not for everyone, and it might have trouble finding an audience (it might be too proggy for stoner metal fans, while proggers might think it’s too heavy). It’s really compelling, though. It draws you in, warts and all. It’s the kind of thing you’ll find yourself coming back to over and over and appreciating more each time. One might not even understand the attraction, but it’s undeniable. It’s likely to be the weirdest thing you’ve ever liked.
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