Jess And The Ancient Ones - Second Psychedelic Coming: The Aquarius Tapes - (9/10)
Published on November 17, 2015
Dreamtime at the crossroads.
One of the forerunners of the 60’s occult rock resurgence, Finnish cult ensemble Jess & The Ancient Ones have a history of mixing psychedelic vibes with surf rock guitars, coming together through vibrant and inventive songwriting. With a marvelous debut album and a series of EP’s under their belt, they are ready to unleash their sophomore epos Second Psychedelic Coming. Returning to the deep waters of shamanism and new age-spiritualism that dominated the Castaneda-EP, the band submerges themselves further in the hippie-movement and mysticism of 1960’s California.
Although the name of the band suggests otherwise, Jess & The Ancient Ones is very much the sum of all its parts. Lead guitarist and songwriter Thomas Corpse might play a vital part, but the frequent psychedelic jamming throughout the entirety of Second Psychedelic Coming puts as much weight on the organs, the bass, the percussion, and of course the magnificent vocal talents of Jess herself. The album kicks off with the occult surf rock number “Samhain”, driven by an intense sense of urgency originating with the sounds of Astral Sabbath. This sound is complemented by an increased focus on progressive elements, and psychedelic effects that seem to bleed further into every subsequent track. On “Crossroad Lightning” we also reach the apex of the jam band sound, with a dreamy atmosphere that feels like a desert ritual unfolding.
There were elements to JATAO’s self-titled debut that veered into doom metal, but those elements are nowhere to be found on Second Psychedelic Coming. Perhaps because of Demilich’s Antti Boman leaving the fold, or simply due to artistic progression, Second Psychedelic Coming embraces the band’s burgeoning mescaline-trip characteristic to an overwhelming degree. As the psychedelic high points of the album “Goetia Of Love” is a mind-melting monster spinning out of control, while the mammoth 22-minute closing track “Goodbye To Virgin Grounds Forever” is a slowly unraveling ballad that culminates in what could be described as Ennio Morricone on LSD. There’s a equally spiritual and musical journey as the album progresses, slowly moving away from riff-based rock and floating further out into the vast space of pure psych.
The drifting and sometimes bizarre nature of Second Psychedelic Coming makes it Jess & The Ancient Ones’ least accessible release by far. However, songs such as “In Levitating Secret Dreams” and “The Lovers” function as more conventional entry points, ensuring a gradual shift into pure psychotropics instead of immediately throwing the doors of perception wide open. Dreamlike and oddly life-affirming, The Aquarius Tapes is a massively ambitious effort and a one way trip to spiritual satisfaction.