MASTER MUSICIANS OF BUKKAKE - Totem Three (CD Important Records)

Having heard much said about this Seattle group during recent years, and their reputation for fusing a vast array of Eastern and exotic instruments with drones and labyrinthine psychedelia, Totem Three nudged its way to the top of the current review stack cast my way by Progress Report rather eagerly. Skipping past sleeve art that looks like it belongs on Sympathy For The Record Industry, first song, ‘Bardo Sidpa’, is an enticingly sedate jumble of chimes, clangs, gutteral drones, unearthly moans and ancient horn howls as ritualistic in demeanour as the back cover photo’s depiction of the group suitably attired in robes and masks. After this, however, the next cut, ‘In The Twilight Of Kali Yuga’, is a livelier affair that suggests a dance coaxed into shape via the deserts of the Middle East. And this folk-ish slant is then mostly kept in check from this point on, swaying comfortably between the celebratory jiggers and the Eastern-flavoured hypno-stompers encapsulated so perfectly by one of the album’s highlights, ‘Prophecy Of The White Camel/Namoutarre’.

A more collaged and uneven approach dominates ‘Reign Of Quantity And The Signs Of The Times/Patriarch Of The Iron Age’, lending an air of gloom to the proceedings supported all the way along by distorted spoken vocals that wouldn’t be out of place in one of The Residents’ more menacing settings, whilst the title of the final cut, ‘Failed Future’, may itself alone capture Master Musicians Of Bukkake’s overall take on matters.

It is hard not to remain intrigued after listening to Totem Three, though. Compelling stuff. RJ