Blaak Heat – Shifting Mirrors

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Irresistible, mesmerising and mystical…

Released through Svart Records on 13 May 2016 and indulged by Jason Guest

Parisian-American avant-garde psych rock trio Blaak Heat – until recently known as Blaak Heat Shujaa – have long been supping on psilocybin and indulging their musical deviances with all the fervour of a dervish dancing on hot coals. Psychedelic, progressive and unafraid to experiment, their previous releases spiralled ambitiously towards some greater truth and sought to transcend the mundane through their complete immersion into the rhythmic and the melodic. Shifting Mirrors, the band’s third full length, very much continues in that vein and sees the band take us ever deeper into worlds unknown.

Opener ‘Anatolia’s insistent drive, its enthralling melodies and its unyielding momentum is all-consuming, an overwhelming introduction to what is a marvellously multifaceted and mesmerising album. With its penetrating vocal, its captivating bass line and its ever-evolving lead work, ‘Sword Of Hakim’ is as enchanting as the desert-like expanses that pervade the wonderful ‘The Approach To Al-Mu’tasim’. And with the 40-second ‘Taqsim’ delivering us into the halls of worship, already, Shifting Mirrors displays a band that has long surpassed the individual needs and wants of each band member that could easily tear such a band apart and merged completely with the needs of a commanding and affirming music.

With many a Middle Eastern melody, rhythm and harmony woven in amongst the space rock (‘Black Hawk’), the psychedelic and the spaghetti western elements (‘Ballad Of Zeta Brown’) that serve the Ozric Tentacles and Trey Spruance’s Secret Chiefs 3 so well, the hypnotic power of theses ten textural tapestries that make up this marvellous album are irresistible, wonderfully so. And with the more traditional ‘Mola Mamad Djan’ and the ritualistic and darker ‘Tamazgha’ coloured with a marvellous fuzz guitar, it’s readily apparent that the band’s indulgences are still in the ascent. ‘The Peace Within’ shifts seamlessly through feels, moods and textures that in the hands of inferior musicians would fall flat but here is nothing less than an outstanding piece of work. And with the serene ‘Danse Nomade’ to close out, Blaak Heat leave us on a high.

This is an album that pulls back the veil between the ephemeral and the eternal and guides you through an other-worldy realm before gently returning you to the mundane whence you came, leaving you with a satisfyingly warm and fuzzy feeling whose origins will always remain enchanting and enigmatic. The religious or the devout amongst us would say this was heaven-sent. I’ll just go with something a bit simpler: This is fucking brilliant!

Blaak Heat – Shifting Mirrors9 out of 10

Track list:

  1. Anatolia
  2. Sword Of Hakim
  3. The Approach To Al – Mu’tasim
  4. Taqsim
  5. Ballad Of Zeta Brown
  6. Black Hawk
  7. Mola Mamad Djan
  8. Tamazgha
  9. The Peace Within
  10. Danse Nomade