The Well - Pagan Science
Austin’s psychy-doom trio The Well are back with “Pagan Science”, their first full length album since 2014’s excellent “Samsara”. The new production really shows of what the group can do - riffs pop more, sounding more muscular and realized, but without loosing the gauzy veil of reverb.
Great Sabbath-y doom still forms the backbone of the songs, and functions as the blast of point for the psychedelia. Skybound is an amped-up 60’ spy guitar riff that recalls "Samsara"’s cover of Lucifer Sam. This time around the cover is David Crosby’s Guinnevere. Where the CSN version lets the lyrical line drone out and drift, it’s mind wandering off in stony reveries, The Well’s take is altogether more paranoid, abandoning the original’s lopey finger-picked acoustic guitar arpeggios for a leaner, more sinister take on the prowling bass riff. Not so much reinvention, as revealing what was there in the original. A change of perspective. If you’re a jazz fan, it’s closer to Herbie Mann’s groove-oriented take than to the wild wanderings of the Miles Davis version.
Lyrically, these songs speak a lot about the lifting of the veil to show what lies beneath. Killer single Black Eyed Gods paints a portrait of one who, in seeing the light of a “tainted wisdom”, implores black-eyed gods to cleanse the world. And that cleansing comes in the form of a barnburner guitar solo and freak out that leapfrogs anything from "Samsara" - it’s just a little bit clearer what these guys are like live.
Elsewhere, someone is compelled by a gypsy who has entered their mind. Crazy Eddie knows far too much about what goes on down by the river. Byzantine monks chant for the annihilation of whatever doesn’t conform to their fanatical reveries. (I always give bonus credit for the use of the word”fane”, too.) There is a tension between the revelation of knowledge and the cataclysm that knowledge brings about. Your old ideology is illusion. Can your ego take there revelation that there is nothing to believe in at the core of it all? Pick up some pagan science and a chemical key to open the door. The Negalith will be waiting for you.
The Well are: