What can a soul do when it has become enveloped by the grey ennui which spirals out of control? When the land around it dies at an exponential rate unseen by both its contemporaries and its forebears; when the past disappears from all memory and replaced by nothing more than a blurry haze? What happens when life becomes drained of all joy, love, and hope? Blink. Press play. The drab surroundings of the ever-encroaching room – an off-colour yet clinical white, the stale sullen carpet, the lifeless landscape painting of somewhere no one could possibly remember – begins to melt with the sounds of some sudden energy. Colour explodes, an injection of pure goodness hits like a powderkeg from absolutely nowhere; those sounds fill the soul with a newfound sense of wonder. You are now in the Waiting Room for the Magic Hour and here, the magic lasts for an eternity.
Such is the power erupting from Sacri Monti’s second long-player; the moment the title track bursts from nothingness the surrounding void illuminates like some nebulous region of the universe, leaving an indelibly positive mark on everything it passes. Their first full length since 2015’s self-titled outing, Waiting Room for the Magic Hour sees San Diego’s loudest quintet run amok with a plentiful supply of ideas manifesting themselves endlessly across the album’s 43-minute runtime – all of them ascending the Floydian nirvana otherwise known as the great gig in the sky, many of which never return to earth. Such a vast myriad of ideas, riffs, and motifs may appear daunting for the casual psych listener, especially where the supremely bombastic jams of ‘Gone From Grace’ are concerned, as boundless imagination ignites a cosmic roadtrip with no fixed destination; It’s an evolution showcasing just how bold the band have become, a boldness as clear as day across the entire record, matching only by its immaculate execution.
As Brenden Deller and Dylan Donovan’s guitars wail and croon simultaneously the ridiculously exuberant performance of Thomas Dibenedetto, featuring prominently in the album’s mix, drives this kosmiche machine into maximum overdrive; this is a spectacle you don’t just hear: you feel it, and you cannot help but move to it. Together with bassist Anthony Meier and synth maestro Evan Wenskay (the caustic vocals appear to remain anonymous), songs like the eponymous opener and ‘Starlight’ emit an interdimensional power; the former overflowing with a restless creativity whilst the former builds up to an inevitable yet no-less breathtaking climax (almost reminiscent of Odyssey-era Horisont). On the flipside there’s ‘Fear & Fire’, a chasing, monumental psychedelic conflagration of beguiling motifs and lucid passages smouldering the landscape with every breath and every returning listen – it’s one of those tracks you find something new to fall in love with every sitting – which verges towards ’70s krautrock supremacy with its successor ‘Armistice’. Then there’s the soulful and aptly titled ‘Affirmation’, an uplifting prog-induced symphony astral-projecting itself far beyond the reach of mankind; almost utopian in its level of bliss, it bears all the hallmarks of a psych classic.
Despite it’s free-flowing nature there’s a succinct tightness in the delivery, not so much a restraint as it is a wisdom; a firm belief in what the music speaks, that the psychic energy from their collective rapport manifests itself as a singular identity. It’s music like this which connects to us all on a deeper level, the reason why the San Diego scene is king in these parts. Not just a proficient evolution of their own sound, Waiting Room for the Magic Hour reminds us of all the splendour dwelling in the universe – the majesty of colour, the glory of chance, the near divinity of the human experience. At a time when the prospects of our species becomes ever bleaker, we need to remind ourselves of the magic we are capable of – and this is the album to do just that. Thank heavens for Sacri Monti!
Also notice just how ’80s-era Vangelis ‘Wading in Malcesine’ really is!
Out on Teepee Records