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Master Musicians Of Bukkake - Far West (Album Review)

Wednesday, 12 June 2013 Written by Ben Bland

The incongruously-named Master Musicians of Bukkake have been frying brains left, right and centre for the best part of a decade. Their ‘Totem’ trilogy, released between 2009 and 2011, contained elements of drone, folk, psychedelia and various world music styles, but what held it all together was a collective determination to be as weird as possible at all times.

Such an interpretation is overly simplistic, though, and ‘Far West’ proves this to be the case. While their bizarre moniker and the touchstones of their musical philosophy remain, the follow-up to the ‘Totem’ series is an altogether more restrained affair. 

There are still occasional outbursts of squalling noise, but for the most part Master Musicians of Bukkake have reined themselves in here. The psychedelic approach that defined much of the ‘Totem’ records has been replaced with a slightly less psychotic palate of sounds. 

Across the six, reasonably lengthy, tracks on offer here, Master Musicians get stuck into the haziest aspects of their style. Everything progresses at a fairly languid pace and, dare it be said, there isn't the same air of unpredictability that characterised their earlier releases. That is not to say that things are ever really “normal” on ‘Far West’, just that they feel slightly more like they were produced by creatures from the same planet as our own. 

‘White Mountain Return’ is as close to pure drone as the group have yet come, choosing to subtly envelop the listener rather than hold them hostage. ‘Gnomi’ continues this slightly more comforting vibe before ‘Arche’ ushers in some of the off-kilter madness that the group has become best known for. 

It soon becomes apparent that everything about this record is a ploy. Moments of disorientation are swiftly followed by moments that are far gentler, if no less acid-tinged. By trying to catch you off guard, Master Musicians of Bukkake ensure that you are constantly alert and aware. The effect is most apparent on the gorgeous closer ‘Circular Ruin’, which is as close as this band will ever get to penning a psych-folk anthem. 

It's a strangely soothing listen. Master Musicians of Bukkake are almost predictable at times here, but such a sense of grounding makes ‘Far West’ a more consistently listenable record than any of its ‘Totem’ predecessors. 


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