Milwaukee: home of some of the planet's most seriously unhinged psychedelic rock. As unlikely as that locale may seem, such has been the case for the past twenty or so years as the players behind the long-running F/i and its offspring Vocokesh have kicked up enough space dust to permanently haze over the minds of underground avant-rock followers everywhere. Spinning off from the F/i mothership in 1991 so as to continue to explore extended psychedelic, improvised instrumental music, Vocokesh have left in their wake a bountiful discography, with Drag City and RRRecords issuing the bulk of it in the 1990's and reissues aplenty appearing on Lexicon Devil. Following up their darkly hallucinogenic fourth album The Tenth Corner (Strange Attractors, 2004), Vocokesh mastermind Richard Franecki & Co. sequestered themselves in their sonic laboratory, fiendishly concocting the next platter of extraterrestrial psychedelic soundtracks. Through the Smoke is the result, yet another brave excursion into the netherworld of rock.
With Through the Smoke, Vocokesh expand upon the ominous acid soundtracks that saturated The Tenth Corner. Combining the swirling guitars of Pink Floyd and the Kraut-inspired mayhem of Ash Ra Tempel with the early analog electronic surrealism of Tangerine Dream and Popol Vuh, Vocokesh continue to place pressure on the boundaries of sound, incessantly exploring cryptic soundscapes via their often times unsettling brand of electronics-drenched, drugged-out rock. On this outing, however, the soundscapes come mixed with some more Prog-like elements and even a touch of psych/garage riffing. "Vibe #6" stirs slowly with heady bass pulses, swooshing synths and subtle guitar lines, but quickly stumbles headlong into all-out mania as Franecki's guitar pyrotechnics spiral forth like alien tendrils, reverberations of a gong tolling the first wave of what is to be a long, dark trip. But a sidestep into garage-psych of "Vocokesh Theme Song" provides a nice respite, as the band exhumes the spirit of Electric Prunes-like fuzz and vibrato. The sojourn is short lived, as Vocokesh continue on, taking the listener on their impressionistic journey woven from total sound exploration.
Vocokesh manage to skillfully hybridize the best of the early 70's avant-garde into their cinematic improvisations. Florian Fricke, David Gilmour, Manuel Göttsching, Edgar Froese, Moebius & Roedelius and Fripp & Eno are all exhumed, but Vocokesh re-image the references into something far more extreme than the aforementioned ever imagined. Eerie and sonically provocative, Through the Smoke is one intense mind-moving hallucination.
Through the Smoke
Through the Smoke by The Vocokesh is licensed under a Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.