POMBAGIRA - Maleficia Lamiah
Ever since discovering progressive rock a good twenty years ago, I was fascinated by long, side-filling epic tracks. Later on I noticed that also doom metal bands have an undeniable fondness for seemingly never ending pieces of music. London based husband and wife duo Pombagira make the next to impossible by combining those two on the surface contradictory genres, and after submitting myself to their fifth album Maleficia Lamiah for a whole week, I am finally hooked.
And at first, I didn’t really like it that much! Their music is so different from anything else I have ever heard that I didn’t know how to tackle it. The production is quite special, and may seem muddled to unprepared ears, but it takes time and dedication to unlock the many magic secrets of this unique album. To simply explain why this must be something special could be done by mentioning that the cover artwork was in the able hands of veteran photographer Vic Singh, who was responsible for the artwork of Pink Floyd’s The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn forty-five years ago! If such an eminent artist is convinced of Pombagira’s virtues, then who am I to disagree?
Pomba Gira is the name of a female spirit in Afro-Caribbean and Afro-Brazilian religions, and the band claims to be influenced by Haitian rhythms (although I always expected that music to sound a little livelier)! But what I could discern is how the band uses its early doom influences (Electric Wizard, Sleep) and spices them up with obscure progressive and kraut rock ingredients (Amon Düül II, early Pink Floyd), to finally come up with an unprecedented hybrid.
The title track is the heavier of the two songs, and especially the first couple of minutes leave the drums a little too much in the background maybe. There is no bass guitar, and it becomes clear early on that Peter Hamilton-Giles is the focal point of attention. Not only is he a terrific guitarist, but also his vocals recall the young Ozzy Osbourne, except that he sounds even more hypnotic. His guitar playing is amazing. When he concentrates on the down-tuned spectrum, he adds so many effects and distortion that you believe listening to an entire armada of six-stringers. But the next moment he can very well switch to a cleaner part and add one of his progressive extravaganzas. This becomes even more obvious on the second track Grave Cardinal, which I ended up liking even a little better. The arrangements may not always seem too subtle at first, but once you’re addicted to this specific wall-of-sound approach, you don’t care about such niceties anymore. It’s also on this second track where I encountered a couple of breaks that reminded me very much of Amon Düül II, as if Pombagira had set out to write their very own Tanz der Lemminge. The heavier parts still bear traces of the band’s doom past, but they sound even closer to drone bands like Sunn O))) and early Boris.
In the end it is hard to describe this musical miracle with mere words. You’ll have to listen for yourself, and please give it time and devotion, and you will be rewarded by one of the most outstanding, groundbreaking, original albums of all times. When doom drone meets progressive rock, walls come tumbling down, and what remains is the pure and unadulterated genius and bliss of Pombagira!
The vinyl edition comes as a double LP set and contains three bonus tracks.