Jess and the Ancient Ones – The Horse and Other Weird Tales (Svart Records)

Jess and the Ancient Ones – The Horse and Other Weird Tales (Svart Records)

Quirky psyche rock that packs a real punch...

It’s a psychedelic freakout! Phunky Phinns Jess and the Ancient Ones are back with a new album, and, happy to relate, are really phiring on all cylinders…

Right, that’s enough sixties inspired riffing. From me at least. Because musically what you’ll be getting from The Horse and Other Weird Tales is purely of a late sixties vintage and derivation. Large portions of the record – instrumentally at least – sound like the sort of music the young people are getting down to at parties on Scooby Doo; a hip, hep and happening fusion of jazz proficiency and surf rock mayhem that’s of it’s time for sure yet still strangely delicious to behold.

At other times – when the band are really firing, as they do on the superb You and Eyes – the listener is enveloped in a quite consummate conflation of Jefferson Airplane and Deep Purple that can’t help but get the ears excited.

Vocalist Jess is a bit of a ringer for Grace Slick, but the comparison never becomes tiresome. When the band are rocking out you’ll get hints of Avatarium’s Jennie-Ann Smith too, but Jess is very much her own voice, and quite rightly the focal point for everything that is good on the record.

The Horse… is a short album, surprisingly. Psyche rock bands often fall foul of the temptation to over egg every pudding in sight, but here the band keep things taught and interesting. Nine songs come and go in just a tick over thirty minutes, cutting the crap and allowing the musicians to focus purely on getting their point over quickly and without fuss.

The urgent, spiralling Return to Hallucinate in particular benefits from this approach. Drummer Jussuf propels things with a double time snare that sets the song up nicely, augmented by some serpentine Hammond work from the superbly-named Abrahammond. Thomas Corpse adds sparse but telling guitar contributions, the whole being a consuming piece of music that achieves in two and a half minutes what many bands would spend three or four times as long attempting to create to result in something half as good. This is the hallmark of true artisans.

Great stuff then, and well worth half an hour of anyone’s time.

The Horse and Other Weird Tales is out now on Svart Records.

Scott Adams
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