Magic Lantern, whose enormous music sounds like it could hail from somewhere between the Nevada desert and a supernova in a distant galaxy but who are actually (and rather incongruously) from Long Beach, California, wear their psyche heritage on their sleeves, right down to the cognoscenti-pleasing Magical Power Mako reference in their MySpazz URL. This, their first, self-titled record, originally came out on the Not Not Fun label on a CD-R limited to a measly 30 copies. Reissued last year on vinyl by Woodsist Records, it's precisely the kind of slow-burning lysergic desert rock i hoped, well, Desert Sessions would sound like before i actually heard them.
Fifteen-minute lead-off track "At the Mountains of Madness" sets the mood and the benchmark, its hypnotic motorik-meets-Motown drum pattern supporting an insistent guitar raga as trippy flute motifs freeform away in the distance. "Vampires in Heat" continues the blitzed atmosphere with a groove so laidback it's hardly going at all, while the riffed-up "Chance Encounter" could be a loose-limbed cousin to Mogwai's Jewish hymnal interpretation "My Father, My King", or even, towards the end, Sleep's legendary Dopesmoker. When a discernible vocal finally appears, on fourth and final track "Gateway", the effect is a little like having Mark Lanegan sing to you while the anaesthesia wears off.
This is a record well worth a listen for those that appreciate either expansive psyche-rock ventures or stuff that tends to garner the "freak folk" label nowadays. Or anyone who's every fantasised about Mark Lanegan on an operating table, obviously.
— Hear "At the Mountains of Madness" as part of "February mixtape"
John Peel - 30th March 1996
12 hours ago