Release date: May 17, 2011
Across Tundras is by no means a new band. The trio formed in 2004, and in the seven years since have released about an album a year. Yet somehow I’ve never managed to hear their music until now. In May, the band will release its 7th full length (8th if you count their 2005 EP) album, Sage, which represents the band’s first album for Neurot Recordings.
The band’s name evokes visions of vast open ranges and roaming buffalo, but I went into this having no clue as to what I might hear, but I tossed Sage onto the old Bose and promptly got lost in the music.
The album opener, “In The Name of River Grand” rolls out with a long instrumental intro before we get to the first vocals. As the song unfolds I feel like I’m deep in the hills of South Dakota or Montana somewhere listening to the soundtrack for a tribal war dance. This is not what one expects from a band out of Tennessee, but remaining founding member, vocalist and guitarist, Tanner Olsen originally put the project together in Denver.
“Hijo de Desierto” is next up, and now I am starting to feel like I’m tripping in a Native American sweat lodge, having hit the peace pipe or peyote a bit too hard.
Across Tundras sound is steeped in bluesy stoner psychedelia and sludge. There is even a good amount of Americana feel to this record which you can clearly hear on “Buried Arrows”. But even here you still can’t shake that vibe that’s you’re on a psychedelic trip of some sort.
Several of the songs even have a Neil Young quality to them, but doomier, and more introspective. The album’s 12-minute epic, “Mean Season Movin’ On”, combines a classic 60’s sound with a very earthy atmospheric feel.
If it’s possible to feel stoned from simply listening to a record then Across Tundras have a knack for getting you to that place without ever leaving your earbuds. Sage is sonically transcendent, and a worthy journey.
Olsen calls this the best Across Tundras record to date, and having now gone back and imbibed of the full catalog, I won’t argue this statement. Still, you should decide for yourself. As a prelude to Sage‘s May release, you can go download the band’s entire body of work for free at this location: http://angrierchairs.blogspot.com/2010/07/across-tundras-discography.html