Volcano erupts on ‘The Island’

by Seth Combs . FEBRUARY 20, 2019 Issue San Diego City Beat

Local band combines Afrobeat, krautrock and psychedelic jamming

As a child of the ’80s, I can testify to the fact that there used to be a time when saying that a band sounded like Santana was a huge compliment. Those early Santana records (Santana, Abraxas and Caravanserai) were masterful amalgamations of rock, Latin rhythms and psychedelia. As a live act, the band was a jamming force to be reckoned with. If Carlos had followed Jimi, Janis and Jim into an early grave, I have no doubt that he’d be looked at as some kind of Mexi prophet who propelled polyrhythmic rock ’n’ roll into another stratosphere. 

Instead he went on to be the guy behind “Smooth (Feat. Rob Thomas).” :-/ 

Local psych-rockers Volcano do not list Santana as an influence on their music, but listening to their debut album, it’s hard not to think about the line of artists before and since who pulled and pushed against the parameters of what rock could be, and who also knew how to rock the fuck out and blow minds. Artists such as James Brown, Fela Kuti and even the Allman Brothers and Stevie Ray Vaughn. Considering the members of Volcano have collectively played in some excellent local bands (JOY, Harsh Toke and Loom), it makes sense they’d want to blow minds minds with epic guitar solos, drum breakdowns and talismanic percussion. 

The six tracks on The Island could very well be one track, both conceptually and stylistically. Not only is there a sense of seamlessness, with one song bleeding into the next, but there’s also a loose narrative in the lyrics about island natives attempting to fight back against invaders. “No Evil, Know Demon” and “Skewered,” in particular, are boiling pots of jamming that rank up there with anything in the local psychedelic-rock scene. The fact that Volcano add elements of Afrobeat and krautrock only adds nuance and energy to a sound that could have been a mess in lesser hands. 

My only gripe with the record, and it’s a small one, is that aforementioned seamlessness. Listening to The Island is an exercise and one that should be done as a whole. The fact that it feels as if we’re listening to one extended track is cool, but I couldn’t help but wish at times that there was one track that stood out as a singular statement. But again, this is a small gripe. Not everyone has an “Oye Como Va,” an “Evil Ways” or even a “Smooth” in them, and that’s quite OK.

Original post is here 


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