Santiago, Chile drone and psych masters Föllakzoid know how to take things to the next level. And while we were droning out to their album II, maybe we were at first distracted by their sister band Holy Drug Couple’s AM radio revisionisms but hearing opener “9” live at San Francisco’s Hemlock locked me further into the grip of new kind of heavy doom. In the way that albums are meant to document a moment in a group’s career, the Santiago quartet utilizes their US debut II as perhaps an outline template to gauge which corner stones and signals to jam forward from for live renditions.
Opening up the album II (a numeric name that may be perhaps an anachronistic reference to the heyday chic of titling albums with chronological specifications), “9” drones into the kraut adhering reverences that give sounds passage through isotope wind tubes. Live, the vocal echoes, electric guitars are amped to their fullest where the noise treatment and effects steer the repetitive guitar into new realms, new suite rooms of their own. If not left alone to the album version or the condensed timing of live festival set constraints, “9” is a late night chugging groove that could be put on a loop three times its 6 and half minute length and would still not overstay its welcome. “Rivers” is a mellow barrel ride down the progressive slipstreams where the guitars strum in rhythmic ripples while the subtle touches of effects and echo affected vocal guide the sails. Staying the course with spontaneous electric guitar bursts, the elemental theme continues on the mean, running-through-the-forest feel of “Trees”. As with all the group’s cuts, an exhibition of restraint in all things related to guitars, effects and pedals are in full employment at all times. And like the brooding demeanor of the opener “9”; “Trees” turns those electric prog highways into branch and twig strewn trails where the guitars shred like wild prairie dogs in pursuit while clanging sounds stir sentiments of danger.
“99” offers a humming lull to help you catch and collect your breath and equilibrium, as the mighty closer “Pulsar” lies in wait within the wings. Clocking in over fifteen minutes, the pulsing electric menaces and driving guitars are the lamplighters into the “Pulsar” void that stands as the best representation of the full Föllakzoid experience. Here you will hear the band in their instrumental jam element where all four hinge their playing off the other artist’s note progressions like a hell bent jazz fusion group taking a turn for those dark and doomed hallway spaces. Keeping up with each other’s timing, the closer winds down to a slow tempo pulse as the Chilean indie forces of darkness conclude their second full length. While at times you might find yourself impatient, waiting for a diversity of chord and key changes that are not minor, or wondering why the sometimes meandering “99” gets stretched to 9 minutes while the group’s definitive afterburner “9” only 6. The only answer to provide further understanding is to witness Föllakzoid live, and then it becomes apparent that these mind melting songs were most likely whittled down from counterparts that most likely stretched past the 20 minute mark in practice space inception. Who knows, maybe the follow up III will deliver with sonic monster jams under the half-hour mark?