Datura - "Visions For The Celestial"
(Brainticket 2000, BTR-008, originally released on Cranium, 1999)
From Aural Innovations #15 (April 2001)
From New Zealand, Datura play fairly standard stoner rock. But read on as there are some special moments on this disc. Visions For The Celestial is their second CD. It was originally released in 1999 on Cranium and has now been reissued in the U.S. by Brainticket. The band consists of Craig Williamson on vocals, bass, and percussion, Brent Middlemiss on lead and rhythm guitars, and Jon Burnside on drums and percussion, plus guests on keyboards, flute, clarinet, and percussion.
There are 6 tracks on the CD and four of them are decent stoner rock tunes, but don't really make any individual mark. Datura's brand of stoner isn't too sludgy and features heavy wah'd guitar that gives an extra psychedelic kick to the music. The bass throbs but isn't so low-end that it sticks in your chest. In fact, it really has a strong 70's jam rock feel. I'm reminded of Mountain but with a more cutting psychedelic edge. "Reaching Out" is a little different being a bit of good old thrash rock 'n roll set in Stoner land.
On "Euphoria" things get a little more interesting and we really start to trip out. I liked the brain-searing acid metal guitar and the mix has it shooting between left and right such that it jarred my head a bit. Actually it sounds like dual guitars on this track and the whole thing is head banging and mind melting at the same time. But the closing track, the 15-minute "Mantra", is completely different. Keyboards create a mucho spacey landscape over which the guitar plays still slow paced, but less heavy stoner wah'd, and more trippy solos than on the rest of the album. Same for the bass. It aids the drums as a rhythm instrument, leaving the stoner throb behind so the keyboards and guitar can do their cosmic magic. There's just a wee bit of the stoner element from the guitar but it adds a welcome edge to the music and contrasts nicely with the flowing space keyboards. This is a solid piece of tripped out psychedelic space rock and really took me by surprise. It makes the whole album for me.
In summary, Stoner fans will more than likely dig Datura, especially if you like a little less sludge and more psychedelia. But like a lot of stoner rock there's little real structure to the music. It's sounds great, but just jams along at a lethargic pace without really going anywhere. Still, there's enough here to indicate that Datura have the right stuff and if they bring on more songs like "Mantra" I might just be a committed fan.
For more information you can visit the Brainticket web site.
Contact via snail mail c/o Brainticket Records; PO Box 122048; Arlington, TX 76012.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz