MAAT LANDER - Elements: Air
Originally started as a project founded by Ilya Lipkin, guitarist of The Re-Stoned, and the Fedotov brothers of Vespero, Russian band Maat Lander combined from the heaviness of the formerís stoner background with the playfulness of the latterís psychedelic roots. Soon Maat Lander became a band in their own right, that has busily been releasing music since 2015. Next to split-albums with Sounds Of New Soma and ōresund Space Collective, there were a couple of singles, a live album and most importantly a few studio longplayers. Elements: Air is the trioís fourth regular album, and also the first in a series of albums about the elements that the ancient alchemists thought everything was made of.
Compared to their other albums, Elements: Air comes only with six tracks, most of which are shorter, so that we get an album that is just over forty minutes long. And frankly, in the past, it was sometimes hard to keep an overview of what was going on on their expansive records. This time, it doesnít take so much of an effort to recognise the different tracks, which is not only because there are fewer of them, but also because the songwriting has vastly improved on the new album.
The album begins with Mercury, at not exactly five and a half minutes the shortest piece on the album. The opener is a fast-paced psychedelic hard rocker with stellar guitar work, and busy rhythm section and nice blubbery synth sounds brewing in the background. Itís hard to believe that there are only three people at work here. The following tracks come with a breezier atmosphere, which makes sense, considering that this first instalment of the series is about the element of air. Maatís First Alchemical Experiment starts moodily, with a certain dub sensibility, slowly building to a magnificent guitar melody. This is Maat Lander at their best! Aether is at nine minutes on of the longer tracks, and combines a recurring melody with strange tinkling percussion. Itís this juxtaposition of the guitar melody with the background percussion that makes for magical moments.
The second half of the album begins with Geocentric Model, a song with a strangely vintage production that somehow reminds me of Bo Hanssonís album of songs that were inspired by The Lord of the Rings. Soul Of Cosmos is at nine and a half minutes the albumís longest song, and while not as enchanting as the other long track, it still has plenty of moments of inspired improvisation. It all ends with Sylphís Breath, an unexpected treat starting with acoustic guitar and bass guitar. Halfway in the song adds some momentum, but the initial guitar melody never really goes away, and itís especially the incredibly complex yet melodic bass guitar that will keep you listening with your mouth watering.
I have always liked Maat Landerís music, and can assure you that their series about the Elements will see them rise to new heights. I am already looking forward to future instalments. This is psychedelic space rock at its most glorious!