Album Review: Lay Llamas – Ostro
Describing yourself as “Italian afrofunk-space-psych purveyors” is already setting the bar way higher than most acts can reach, so it’s with trepidation that we approached the debut album from Sicilian outfit Lay Llamas. Plus: Lay Llamas? What’s with the name? I don’t know. Opening track ‘Ancient People of the Stars’ didn’t really improve matters, proving to be 6 minutes of nonsense ‘ethnic’ vagaries masquerading as some sort of transmogrifying headtrip to the cosmos.
Thankfully, the next song changes matters substantially. On 'We Are You' the band evolve a lengthy, sprawling jam session into a dilated pupil of a postpunk groove, not a million miles from Simian's 'Never Be Alone'. It's an unexpected switch, and one supported a few tracks on when it turns out that one of Lay Llamas has John Lennon’s voice circa ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ down pat, elevating the track ‘Desert of Lost Souls’ into something akin to a lost psyche masterpiece, organs pumping under flattened vowels and floating guitar.
With the faux global vibes and stinking Tibetan bells of the opener successfully purged, Ostro finds its feet, developing into a modern prog record that nods to tranced out dance as much as it does to the heavier imperatives of psyche. On stand out track ‘Archaic Revival’ the grinding bassline delivers a sinuous worm of groove, breaking nasty from the floating ambience of the intro, confident enough to unfurl at its own hypnotic tempo before the reverb heavy vocals whisper in. This is the bad acid; paranoid and claustrophobic and jerkily propulsive. “I wanna get back down” they insist.
So, a mixed debut, but one that shows a lot of promise – look past the occasional duff forays into eastern mysticism and you find a fine album flying a freak flag all of its own.
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