Share GOING BACK THROUGH ARLANDA - Ginger (self released)
FROM THE ROAD - Ginger (self released)
Snowcap mountain-ringed and awash in chocolate and cuckoo clocks, bankers' paradise Switzerland (enough stereotyping?) isn't noted for its heritage of psychedelic rock bands so Ginger breaks the ice, so to speak. "Going Back Through Arlanda" is a studio album and the follow-up is a live document. Since the latter just arrived and the former has been sitting around for six months waiting for gingers to strike the keyboard, reviews of both are timely.
These are sprawling, slightly self-indulgent and downright absorbing trips that slip into spaces most people haven't crept into and curled up into a ball in since beards were compulsory and LSD was legal. "Arlanda" packs seven long tracks into nearly 50 minutes with three clocking in at either side of 10 minutes. There's a distinct streak of folk running down the middle with electric guitar alternately spiralling skyward or intricately creeping forward.
Vocalist-guitarists Micha Butikofer and Marc Walser take a back seat on most of these songs with their sometimes beguiling singing taking an obvious cue from Syd Barrett. Butikofer occasionally swaps six-string for trumpet, adding some off-the-wall non-conformity. The engine room is tight, alright, with Dominik Jucker's rolling drum fills prominent. The production could have done with a bit more bottom end.
The soaring opener "T-10" will satisfy most peoples' expectations of a psych band. "Raja" will break them, slipping around in a wash of drone like a latter-day Television live track before crystallising as a funky, trumpet-punctuated intsro. "Crosstown Bar Blues" is just that and would fade from memory along with its dying notes but for some incendiary guitar phrasing and a gin-soaked vocal ripped straight from the Paul Butterfield Blues Band's "East-West".
"Rosie's" sounds just like a Mountain song so that's OK. The closing "Drive Baby" - well, that was traveling just fine until the mercifully short drum solo near the end. Even so, I'm not marking it down too hard.
"From The Road" is exactly what it says, committed to tape during tours of Germany and Switzerland. The promo sheet bills it as "blues, rock, psychedelia" and the packaging doesn't lie. Not surprisingly, it's also heavier than its studio predecessor.
"From The Road" is book-ended by covers - Pink Floyd's "Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun" gets a suitably wall-shaking treatment, while Them's bar-band hand-me-down standard, "Gloria", is torn a new poop-chute over eight thunderous minutes.
"Drive Baby" benefits from the extra dynamics that the live format permits. That's also the weakness in the pigeon-pairing of "Jam" and "Drums" which are, not surprisingly, a jam and some drums. The album's mid-point is also its meandering low-point, although the applause would indicate that there are lots of very stoned European hippies that would disagree. The trippy "Winds Of Dust Part II" almost drifts off into the same space before the '70s boogie-blues of "Sugar Mama" brings things back to earth.
Who said Switzerland was a neutral country? Ginger plant a flag in '60s psych and '70s blue collar rock territory. If your tastes run a similar way you're unlikely to be disappointed.- The Barman
3/4 - Going Back Through Arlanda
1/2 - From The Road
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