Black Sun Ensemble - "Hymn Of The Master"
(Camera Obscura 2001, CAM048CD)
From Aural Innovations #19 (April 2002)
Jesus Acedo has assembled a new Black Sun Ensemble making Hymn Of The Master the first real all-new BSE album in quite some time. The new band joining guitar master Jesus consists of Eric Johnson on bass, guitars, moog, percussion and vocals, Otto Terrorist on drums, percussion and vocals, and Brian Maloney on saxophone, clarinet and sitar. The promo sheet says Johnson and Terrorist are from a Tucson acid rock band called Sun Zoom Spark. I've never heard of them but feel inspired after hearing this album to see if they've got any recordings available.
On Hymn Of The Master we experience BSE exploring serious heavy rock and psychedelic territory. There's oodles of blistering power rock with a nice grungy edge from Jesus, a phenomenal guitarist who is equally adept at both crushing rock and liquid psychedelia, and here we hear him thrashing his axe like Hendrix at a demolition derby. Among my favorite tracks is "Captain Wormwood", a tune that will bring a smile to the faces of longtime BSE fans. It's a true hard psych guitar assault on which Jesus flexes his mantric muscles and stretches out for 9+ minutes of brain blistering psychedelia that is equal parts trippy, molten acidic, and darkly doomy. "The Beast" is another lengthy instrumental psych rocker with freakout guitar that will destroy your brain... but what a way to go!! Imagine if Jimmy Page went completely psychedelic on the early Zeppelin albums and it might sound something like this.
"Whirlpool Ocean" consists of hard rock Indian ragas and excellent screaming guitar from Jesus. "Love In The Heart Of The Joyful" features bongloads of more traditional ragas with acoustic guitar, sitar, and percussion. But the music is given a bit of an avant-garde edge by the addition of the dissonant noise-psych guitar. Strange... trippy... and definitely something different. "Bloody Mary" and "669" took me by surprise with BSE inching their way into real space rock territory, particularly on "669" as the thrashing rock guitar and rhythm section pounds away in the forefront while the cosmic synths and trippy keys paint the landscape behind them. And Maloney's sax provides the music with a welcome groove. The album also curiously includes a re-recording of "Celestial Cornerstone", a song from the 1988 Lambent Flame album. It's a great song but with so many solid new tunes I'm not sure why they've dipped into the back catalog.
Whewwww... what a ride. But BSE have mercy on the listener and ease us off the supersonic ride with two melodic tracks to finish the album. "Lamp Lady Vision" is an enjoyable tune with some very nice playing, but to my ears the band don't seem to really gel on this one. Quite the contrary for "Song For Precious". Now here's a melodic tune that works well, with much more sense of direction. A nice closing number after such a blistering roller coaster ride. I hope this album signals more new releases from BSE because this is one seriously kick ass disc. Excellent!
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Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz