Album Review: The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic - Through The Dark Matter
By Ara Ajizian |
Classic, heavy riffs meet spaced-out fuzz in this second offering from The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic.
Los Angeles-based The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic continue to explore the outer reaches on their sophomore effort, Through The Dark Matter, a five-song EP that brings more of what made their self-titled debut a raucous, riff-heavy, psychedelic good time. The trio, made up of guitarist Ed Mundell (Monster Magnet, The Atomic Bitchwax), bassist Collyn McCoy (Trash Titan, Otep) and Sasquatch drummer Rick Ferrante, certainly has deep roots in the stoner rock and metal scenes, but the combination of the three makes for an eclectic blend of styles fueled by Mundell’s Hendrix-laden tone and knack for great riffs and a rhythm section that just don’t quit. As with the first album, all tracks are instrumental, except for the cover of the classic “Spoonful,” a nod to perhaps the greatest rock trio of all time, Cream, who also famously covered it.
While the debut album from the UEMG featured space-rock jams and guitar solos galore along with a very improv-centric feel throughout, Through The Dark Matter comes across as a more focused effort, packing as much punch into five tracks as any EP can. The short, delay-drenched intro track, “Small Magellanic Cloud,” sets the controls for the heart of the sun, as Mundell and a fuzzed-out McCoy create an otherworldly soundscape that bleeds into the title track’s crushing riff.
McCoy and Ferrante lay down a lock-step groove for Mundell to deliver his signature leads on top of. Tasteful overdubs and panning throughout take you back to the golden age of bluesy guitar jams, at times sounding like there are three or more distinct players in the band rather than just one. It’s a testament to what a powerhouse guitarist Mundell is and his knack for interweaving melodies. The cut fades out before the five-minute mark, right as the band launches into double time, leaving you wanting more (as any good band does).
Up next is the seven-minute “Spoonful” cover, which for the first time gives us a taste of the band with a vocal accompaniment. McCoy steps up to tear into Willie Dixon’s blues staple and delivers a distorted, growling vocal that fits perfectly with the band’s romping, grooving approach. Mundell delivers blistering solos throughout the song that capture the same sonic character of Clapton’s fuzz on the Cream version. And like other great power trios like Cream and Gov’t Mule, these guys clearly understand the importance of the space between the notes. Though the mix is dripping with fuzz on the vocals, guitar and bass, everyone rides the wave together without getting in each other's way. This version of "Spoonful" is seven minutes of pure psychedelic blues awesomeness.
The original “Day of the Comet” follows, this one featuring a duel between McCoy’s cutting bass lines up and down the fretboard and Mundell’s trippier side as he modulates his sound to the outer limits. As always, Ferrante is right in the pocket, holding the band in orbit even when the rocket's engines are at full throttle. Coming from the groove-heavy Sasquatch, he’s really the perfect guy to play drums in this outfit, and the instrumental format allows him to let loose and show what a multi-dimensional player he is.
As it began with “Small Magellanic Cloud,” it ends with “Large Magellanic Cloud,” a laid-back, seven-minute Twilight Zone-ish jam with plenty of jazzy guitar leads and atonal, analog-synth goodness. McCoy’s bass really drives this one; he never repeats himself as he builds the overdrive and volume until it overtakes everything and launches into a wah-wah soaked solo in the upper registers.
Through The Dark Matter is the natural progression for The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic following their debut album in 2013. Though the first album certainly highlighted the musical chemistry these three guys have with one another, it’s clearly been enhanced by time. There’s still that feeling of improvisation, but with a tightness that only comes with many hours of playing together. This extended EP is a great companion to the first album and a look at what we can expect on the next full-length release.
The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic
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