Black Tar Prophecies, Vols. 1-3

by: Grails

Now this is more like it. Grails had basically fallen into a post-rock rut by the time their tour ended in 2005. They began a series of 12" releases called Black Tar Prophecies. The first was a split disc with Red Sparowes and the second was their own; this disc collects them with new pieces not available on the two previous limited-edition vinyls. As a band, Grails have embraced something far more experimental about themselves. Sonically, the disc is clean -- even when the plentiful fuzzed-out and distorted electric guitar is present. But Black Tar Prophecies is more speculative and more solid. There is a focus on ideas and execution rather than on repetition. Some things sound like they were recorded live in the studio; others sound like the sonic effects were added on not as an afterthought but as part of the process. The spirit of the great '60s and '70s experimenters is in here (from Can and Faust to Jean-Claude Vannier, early Eloy, and Flower Travelling Band), but Grails sound like themselves. Rock, jazz, free-form freakouts, droning soundscapes, plodding dubbed-up and out bass -- they are all here, making for one of the most adventurous records to come out in 2006 and perhaps, when all is said and done, one of the very best. ~ Thom Jurek

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