Lunar Dunes are a West London three piece comprising Adam
Blake on guitar, Ian Blackaby on bass, and Hami from the mighty
Transglobal Underground on drums. This is a long way from the
latter's day job of providing a dancey backbeat for all that
Arabic wailing, though, as this takes the old-fashioned concept
of a power trio plugging in, turning it up, and just letting
it go, maaan. Twelve instrumental tracks of this variety isn't
necessarily my cup of tea, but fortunately Lunar Dunes are
more interested in the spacey, atmospheric side of things than
indulging in some wanky, workmanlike blues rock. This results
in some of the best guitar wig outs since Julian Cope's twenty
minute Eccentrifugal Force on the 2003 Rome Wasn't
Burnt In A Day album.
From Above opens with the slowed down freeform
funk of the title track, the sound of a band who've just taken
their mittens off and are warming those cold little fingers
before they really hit their stride a couple of minutes in. As
Below, with its insistent beat and cyclical riff, carries
on where From Above left off. But things really step
up a gear with the next track Herzegovina (Interpolating
Le Petite Chevalier) with its mournful guitar, bass riff,
and clattering beat driving things forward. Blake lets loose
a gorgeous riff, whilst Krupa's Eastern sounding vocals are
the first hint that a member of TGU is aboard. It's a fab number.
One of the best things I've heard all year in fact.
The more restrained Loophole is probably the most TGU influenced number here, with the tablas keeping things going as the band go off in a slightly more esoteric direction. Then, The Todal Gleeps finds the band really putting their foot on the pedal. This song opens with something of a sinister sounding intro, with a Thriller-like howling noise over a throbbing beat, before some searing guitar bursts in. Indeed, there's something almost disturbing about the riff on this sprawling-in-a-Zinc Alloy kinda way number. Another excellent track.
Of course, there's a thin line between guitar wig outs that do it for me and ones that don't, so it's perhaps inevitable that this line would get crossed at some point. So it proved on Yaman. It starts well enough, like the sound of the Jimi Hendrix Experience at their most mellow, playing Fleetwood Mac's Albatross in some low key club gig with Jimi quietly hunched over his guitar on a day off from all that showman business. Unfortunately, as the track closes, the guitar starts wailing away in a manner that's way too proggy for my virtually prog-free tastes.
Things are soon back on track though. Rowing Boat is a nice chiming, chilled out number, whilst When I Was On Horseback is reminiscent of George Harrison in his more eastern sounding Beatle moments like Within You Without You and The Inner Light. Talking of 60s groups, My Lagan Love finds Blake tinkling away like The Doors' guitarist Robbie Kreiger in such a manner that you can almost imagine Jim Morrison suddenly popping in to croon "This is the end…". It's definitely one of the highlights of the set though, benefiting from a nice use of cello before some power chords signal the bands intent to build things up to good effect.
Admittedly, From Above would probably benefit from a spot of
editing – personally I could probably manage without the closing Scatter as
well as Yaman. But that is to be persnickety, because this album, recorded
in a mere three days and seemingly having come from nowhere, is a really pleasant
surprise. Well done, chaps…