Not just another run of the mill Krautrock band, Planes of Satori call their sound psychedelic Afro-Kraut and this debut album from the Oakland-based quartet shows this off wonderfully. Featuring members of Golden Void, Parchman Farm, Voices and Cousins. Otherworldly beats and psyche rock, vinyl LP on Who Can You Trust?.
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Planes of Satori, bless you: you make us feel that ineffable thing we like to call groove without any reference to the science of music. I like your riffs, to start: they walk around the place like a toy that’s been wound up and expertly deployed, sounding both static and magical at the same time. Then there’s the drums, which politely keep rhythm before delving into a jazz-kraut wonderland where things are free and ceremonious -- like the onslaught of disjointed percussion from Birdman, but slicker and stealthier. And your vocalist, Mr. Alejandro Magana, sounds like he should be in the Pixies, screaming about debasers. It is a strange mix, but Planes of Satori sound tight. As trousers.
Traditional kraut-rock is rarely done well, these days: the traditionalism is usually mixed into a hybrid of other stuff, and though Planes of Satori are influenced by psych rock and Afrobeat, they’re also dedicated to the unshaken rhythms and hypnotic tactics of those early kraut bands. They let the scene erupt around grudge-holding basslines that feel guarded against the woozy, groaning guitar solos and chattering teeth of Magana’s.
Magana has been compared to Can’s Damo Suzuki as he often provokes the same reactions from the smoky rock aesthetics he finds himself in -- he contributes that same compelling, obscured type of in-and-out background singing as his hero on “Green Summer”. At his best, though -- and with less dominating guitar solos -- he’s more Malcolm Mooney, recalling the energy with which he kicked everything out of the room on Delay’s “Butterfly”. That speaks to his range, of course, and the many different ways Planes of Satori fuck with the definition of “krautrock”; sometimes it’s wild, and sometimes it’s sterile. But it always has a plan.
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