Confident and thick as a galaxy, this album gathers up a whole bunch of psych and prog influences and pours them out like black coffee. It’s the coffee you drink while in some Byzantine rite of passage (no you can’t have cream!). Each sip feels mystical and heavy, to be savored by the deepest of olfactory nerves. The pace is relaxed yet full of momentum, demonstrated to perfection on “Knowledge and Conversation”, a 16-minute piece that grows like mutant mycelium in an abandoned city. Repetitive guitar themes keep one foot on the earth as constantly shuffling drums and bass lines help pilot the ark of electronic weather and energy.
Based in Manchester, UK, Dead Sea Apes draw from a lot of influences. Their fondness for the kraut-masters Can comes across in the way they tailor their layers. As it goes, Lupus is a jam record by design, the one-off recordings later studied and enhanced with more layers, sounds, drama, and the like. “Something To Do With Death” pits a mechanically drowsy rhythm with a Simon Scott vibe, telecasters twinkling and stratocasters growling. Guitars perpetually bloom on top of others in loops for a good twelve minutes. “Blood Knot” sounds like some (un)happy accident, as an arachnid beat with tambourine joins up with a terrifying metal chord – for about a minute. The variation between moods and approaches on each track keeps this album highly engaging.
Lupus is psych rock meditation music, and the reason it doesn’t run out of steam is the band’s sense of dynamism and drama. Dead Sea Apes play slow, and thus more pockets of space open up to enhance what’s being played. Some folks are just savants at knowing when to ratchet up the tension at the right moment, or draw it out over a matter of minutes. Grails do this impeccably, and here Dead Sea Apes do it at a more glacial pace. But it’s a black glacier, and it trails fire behind it, spitting ash as it rampages through hillsides and villages in the Roman countryside (just you wait for the climax on “Wolf Of The Bees”, you’ll see it). I wasn’t aware this would be part of the ritual, but one doesn’t argue when the mirrors open doors. (Nayt Keane)