|At Your Surface
(Released 11/16 by Drigh Records)
The Big Takeover
Although I lived in Columbus, OH from 1998-2000 while attending graduate school there, I did not learn of this 1997-formed, 20-year-old Columbus collective until their 2009 second LP More Fiend. In my issue 64 review, I described More as “ominous, trance-inducing space-rock, with hints of metal, psychedelic, and Eastern influences.” That could similarly sum up their 2012 third album Cosmosaic, and this new six-song, 43-minute fourth. Yet while their leisurely, lurching music might seem static and steadfast in style and structure, Floorian are no lazy, laurel-resting luddites. They’re continually broadening the boundaries of their fastidious framework, while sharpening and shaping their sound, so each LP feels fresh and forward-looking. Though their Facebook page bills them as a quintet, each of the compositions on At Your are comprised of anywhere from three to seven players, with the band’s two founders and songwriters, guitarist Todd Fisher and bassist/keyboardist/vocalist John Godshalk, serving as the main constants.
The portentous, prog-inspired “From on High” is given mass and menace by Fisher’s and Bill Spiropolous’s fulminating, feedback-drenched guitars, Larry Durica’s tough, thudding drums, and Godshalk’s shadowy, sedated vocals. The similarly sinister, shoegaze-scented “Spinning Time” finds Fisher’s chords more caressing and cleansing, sharply contrasting with Godshalk’s scraping, serrated bass and shivery, spectral singing. Elsewhere, two drawn-out, deliberately developing dirges find the dexterous group aggregating an array of disparate sounds. Clocking in at nine minutes, the icy, ill-boding “Icaro” (named for a sung or whistled ceremonial or medicine song, common in South America) integrates pulsating keyboard tones and pattering percussion with the chilling chants of Tabitha Weyandt and hypnotic Hindustani hymns of Utpola Borah, while the enveloping 14-minute closer “Agra Man” is entangled with Middle Eastern and Indian embellishments, like Fisher’s droning electronic tanpura and Hans Utter’s oud, sitars, and tablas. Evoking The Doors’ “The End,” “Agra” escalates to an explosive, electrifying finale, clinching the LP as another mesmerizing, mind-expanding listen.
Sounding like the bastard sons of Roky Erickson and Spacemen 3, “Ternion” opens the latest album from Floorian in lysergic splendour, your mind coated by a floating organ whilst a languid and very trippy guitar paints geometric patterns across your vision, the track dripping with a late night hallucinogenic vibe that immerses you completely. Beginning with ghostly echoes “From On High” suddenly produces a dirty guitar riff as it explodes into a space rock tune, bass and drums creating a solid, yet stoned, platform over which the guitar stomps and dances, vocals almost lost in the mix.
Giving the guitars a chance to shine out, “Face” is a swirling instrumental with some great playing and a relaxed feel, the vocals used as an instrument, echoing out of the mix, the song a great introduction to “Icaro” a nine minute tune that slowly builds the atmosphere and tension, each play revealing more layers and textures.
After the mellow garage of “Spinning Time” a delightful slice of sixties style Psych, the album reaches it's climax with “Agra Man” , 14 minutes of techni-coloured dreaming, a classic right from its droning Eastern beginnings, through the pulsing space rock bliss, the incense laden middle section and finally the full on guitar freakout that closes the tune, worth the price of admission by itself although there is so much more to enjoy throughout. Fans of Lamp of the Universe, Vibrasonic, F/I, etc should definitely check this one out.
Floorian have been a mainstay of American space rock for almost 20 years now. At Your Surface is their fourth album, an album steeped in edgy, psychedelic investigations rippling through many shadowy layers. The pace of the album is perhaps a bit more languid than previous works, as the band explores a narcotic, mesmerizing world of sonic mysteries. The overall sound of At Your Surface is misty and murky, and I mean that in the best way. I mean it in the sense that Floorian's sound is deep and sonorous, oceanic in nature (as the cover art suggests), as the listener floats on its fog haunted surface, aware of the murky depths below that conceal a sense of overwhelming mystery.
I immediately hear an early Pink Floyd influence on the opening cut, Ternion, with its slowly drifting rhythm and eerie, vaguely exotic sounding melodies. The spacey Farfisa sounding organ in particular will have you looking back to those heady experimental days of the late 60's. But after that in-spirit throwback, things move forward into the present (or maybe the future?) with the slow and heavy rocker From On High, one of my favourite tracks on the album, a song that plays mostly plays it cool, well beneath the surface, but when the anthemic chorus riff rises above the waves it becomes truly exhilarating.
And where the song Face is a sort of chugging, industrial ballad, the nearly 10-minute long Icaro is a pulsing, trippy rocker full of weird, spaced out sounds and layers of haunting voices. Spinning Time is the shortest song on the album, at just under 4-minutes. It's mid-tempo psychedelia makes for a nifty little song that could have been a hit single in another universe. The final track, the 14 plus minute epic, Agra Man, dives into Eastern oceans, with droning electronic tanpura, and other eastern instruments complimenting the band's dark and atmospheric space rock. I love how at just past the 5 minute mark, rays of sunshine burst through the brooding clouds and a beautiful acoustic sitar (or oud, possibly) melody takes over for a couple of minutes. The piece eventually builds into a stunning psych/space jam that brings the album to a close.
Although Floorian's studio album output (4 albums in 20 years) is not prolific, when they do come out with a new release, it's always sure to knock your socks off, and At Your Surface is definitely a powerhouse of an album that does exactly that. Highly recommended.
Writing About Music
It has been a few years since I heard a Floorian CD. Jerry at Aural Innovations is a friend and fan of these guys and put us in contact. Although this album came out last year, I felt I needed to tell you about it. This is the bands 4th record (2004, 2009, 2012, 2016) and features 6 tracks of dreamy psychedelic music. The first track has a very eastern feel with the way the organ is played. Quite spacey stuff especially the vocals on this relaxed track. From on High has a more heavy guitar riff but a slow relaxed pace with again spacey vocals but a catchy chorus (like Wooden Shjips or something). Good contrasts in this track. Face is very spaced out and psychedelic. Icaro features a quite simple guitar line, spacey drone synth and a simple sung vocal (no words). This really evolves into a very cool song with a far out drone ending. Spinning Time brings back a more melodic stoned rock and roll vibe. Agra Man closes this album and has a slow spacey fade up with a repeated guitar line and dreamy synth. The eastern theme and a table like drum appears in this long track. Cool stuff guys.
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