Datura - "Allisone" (Cranium 1998, CRM 002)
From Aural Innovations #6 (April 1999)
Take a trip down under, hang a left and find the north island of New Zealand. There you will find a pretty cool stoner band named Datura. Cranium Music, the lone Kiwi space/psych music label, found them also and so now their music is ready for worldwide consumption. "Allisone" is made up of seven heavy rockers and one uncredited folksy psych tune hidden at the end, but together total only about 35 minutes of disc time.
Musically-speaking, Datura's style is nearly indistinguishable from either California's Fu Manchu or its offshoot Nebula. Fuzz-heavy riffs, thundering bass, copious amounts of wah-wah soloing, aggressive vocals...it's all in there. One difference though...vocalist (and bassist) Craig Williamson has a voice most similar to Glenn Danzig - maybe not quite so deep and resonant, but Williamson uses the same sort of inflections. It works well here, and for that reason alone I'd say Datura is worthy of checking out. That said, I don't really feel that they've written enough good tunes to jump to the top of the Stoner pile. "Man in the Moon" really gets me going with its funky-fuzz, bass-thumpin', and guitar screamin', but then I had to wait until the finale, "Mountain" to hear something as good. Here, they present a darker, almost-gothic feel that really does sound original. The lyrical lines were well-written, the crazy psych-guitar swashing provided a nice backdrop, and the extended outro jam was a great way to finish off the album. Which then it doesn't, as the hidden track still remains. (Hit the fast forward...there's no sense in waiting.)
OK, I'm ready to give this album a 'thumbs up,' though I think they could do a bit more to distance themselves stylistically from all those jumping on the stoner bandwagon. The gothic quality of "Mountain" was a good start, and tells me they have the tools to do just that. I'll be back to check in on them next time 'round, and see how they've made out.
Datura is available from Cranium Music.
Reviewed by Keith Henderson