Heat Leisure, III/IV

Richard Gehr

By Richard Gehr

on 10.14.14 in Reviews

The first two installments from Heat Leisure, the ongoing trance-rock collaboration involving Pontiak’s three Carney brothers, Guardian Alien percussionist Greg Fox and Beach House guitarist Steve Strohmeier, were filmed outdoors in the bucolic horse pastures of the Carneys’ idyllic Virginia farm. III and IV, on the other hand, were recorded in the nocturnal recesses of Pontiak’s studio, which lends this heavy trance music a ritualistic sweat-lodge vibe — the throbbing tom-toms! The space guitar! The wails! — over most of its surprisingly brief 27 minutes.

Hitting a sweet spot and evaporating into the ether without wearing out its welcome

The wild card in this deck is once and future Merry Prankster, and Ken Kesey copilot, Ken Babbs. With Fox and Lain Carney’s gracefully synchronized rhythms rising slowly behind him, Babbs rhapsodizes benignly for about six minutes. “Species memory, like a hula popper, is difficult to swallow/ Like dimensional bubbling keeps up your dopper” is one of his more enigmatic epiphanies. By the time guitars and drums explode into full fury, the shamanic chief has left the building.

The aliens arrive in IV. Guardian Alien vocalist Alexandra Drewchin discovers strange new tongues amid eight-limbed drumming with a krautrock tinge — although Amon Duul, whose inspiration looms large, were harsher than this crew. As rituals go, Heat Leisure’s music never develops long or energetically enough to provide psychic liftoff. As stoner-rock, however, it hits a sweet spot and then evaporates into the ether without wearing out its welcome.