THE LEGENDARY FLOWER PUNK - Wabi Wu
Instrumental psychedelic rock is a genre that is often pleasant to listen to, but just as often is running the risk of ultimately coming across as rather self-indulgent. The Legendary Flower Punk from Saint Petersburg seem to have been around since the beginning of the millennium, and according to their Bandcamp page, Wabi Wu is already their eighth output. I checked out some of their earlier material, just to have something for comparison, and can tell you with a clear conscience that their new album is the place to start.
Wabi Wu is a rather short album, containing only six songs ranging between five and nine minutes, plus a short outro. Unlike other genre albums, it feels extremely focused, and if the first reaction to the three quarter hour running time might be one of slight disappointment, you will soon understand that this is just the right length for this superb and above all varied album.
The Legendary Flower Punk have a core line-up of three musicians on guitar, bass and drums, but there are a bunch of guest musicians adding all kinds of textures. Most famous are Gleb Kolyadin (iamthemorning) who is adding synths on three tracks and more importantly grand piano on two further tracks which is where he shines at his brightest. Then we also get a guitar solo courtesy of Ed Wynne (Ozric Tentacles). Other musicians add electronics, saxophone, flute and percussion. The opener and title track is a psychedelic rock piece coming at a nicely fast tempo, where the guitar and saxophone are duelling each other over an upbeat rhythm section, and instantly makes you hungry for more. Hexagram starts at a more sedate pace, but not even two minutes into the song, we get a surprisingly electronic sequencer part that transports the song into danceable techno territory. Even if you usually donít like electronic music, it has to be said that techno beats give psychedelic rock a more modern touch. Prince Mojito is at nine minutes the longest track on the album and comes with a dreamier atmosphere.
And this brings us to the second half of the album. Azulejo is also a quieter track with jazz fusion guitars and later some nice flute parts that add a certain Seventies progressive folk flair. The following two tracks feature the incredible Gleb Kolyadin on grand piano and are also because of that worth the entry money. Aki Kaurismški, a tribute to the bandís favourite film director from Finland, is another more sedate track which uses its eight minutes running time to add enough textures to keep things interesting all over. Trance Fusion PŚ Ryska has a Swedish title yet comes with a quaint Caribbean math rock feeling. Its second half highlights Kolyadinís piano talents. The album ends with the one and a half minute long Zen Again, a pastoral guitar and flute ending to this amazing album.
I donít know if The Legendary Flower Punk will have the possibility to have all their guest musicians on stage, but itís their solid rock foundation combined with their amazing guest that transform Wabi Wu into one of the most inspiring psychedelic rock albums I have ever heard. Quite often they keep the rhythm at a simple four-to-the-floor disco rhythm, and are also not afraid to add electro and techno elements, and yet that is also what helps keep their music grounded in the present. If you love bands like Ozric Tentacles, Quantum Fantay and the likes, you will get an update on their sound on this splendid record.