Nothing In Rambling is, well and truly, giving me shivers. Jason Albertini and Canaan Dove Amber are obliquely mining primal territory on their seventh album, which is their first with the Joyful Noise label.
At first listen, some of Helvetia’s initial stanzas come across as simply very good, psychedelically infused rock. Within a syllable or beat, however, these morph almost imperceptibly into visceral beauty. Lyrics (“The mirror clouds,” “These are some of the things/poor and desperate things,” “I guess it wouldn’t hurt to take you back to the beginning”) float in and out of perception; as in the state between sleep and wakefulness. Helvetia understands the power of space; of implied silence. Its starkly intuitive phrasing recalls that of Syd Barrett, and of King Crimson on tracks such as “Indoor Games.” Effects are just gonzo enough to evoke occasional cosmic giggles – without devolving into sophomorism. Rock and classical dynamics are incorporated with so many things I’ve liked that have been called “progressive.” Wheee!
The term “Psychedelic” carries a certain mystique, these days – it’s being tacked onto a fair amount of rock, garage, and even folk/miscellaneous output. As with the California gold rush, there’s been a lot of panning — mostly by musicians who are far enough removed from seminal psychedelia to be entranced by an experience they may have gleaned from their grandparents and/or YouTube — with relatively rare appearances of bona fide gold. Nothing in Rambling is one of those appearances. Indeed, Helvetia has tapped such a rich lode that its latest work, while striated by the guitar washes and subliminal effects that often characterize psychedelia, transcends the genre; in effect, creating at least a variation on the language.
In short, Helvetia is now in danger of being compared with Pink Floyd circa Meddle, at least per its album’s position and timing in the current Day-Glo-influenced musical world. Its mental/emotional stimulation is one of the key varieties of manna for which I, a semi-intellectual music geek, do all of this blasted reviewing.
Nothing in Rambling will be released by Joyful Noise on September 11, on a variety of media including CD, red vinyl, black vinyl, and red audiocassette, all of which include MP3s. Until then, here’s “Nettles.” You can hear “Rybro” on Helvetia’s site: www.helvetiamusic.com