Today Desert Psychlist reviews a truly impressive album but at the same time laments the passing of the band that made that album, the album in question is "Mystic Vulture" a stunning opus awash with elements of grunge, desert rock and heavy psych, the band are/were Cleõphüzz a Canadian outfit haling from Quebec who up until a while ago looked to have a bright and promising future. The Covid pandemic caused a lot of heartache and pain for a lot of people and the effect of its lockdowns and forced isolations hit the music world hard, venues were closed overnight, gigs got cancelled and musicians, who needed to play with other musicians in order to make music, were restricted from doing so, some bands/artists chose to cross their fingers and sit things out but for some it was all too much and this was the case with Cleõphüzz. "Mystic Vulture" is the bands parting gift to us, an album that is the final legacy of a band who may have well gone on to greater things if not for a virus called Covid-19
"Mystic Vulture" is an album Desert Psychlist expects to see gracing many of those much loved end of year lists, not out of sympathy or some misplaced loyalty to a band we all had high hopes for but simply because it is a truly SUPERB album. Canada is not a country known for its deserts, or for that matter its vultures, yet despite this Cleõphüzz have somehow captured the feel of that environment. The ironically titled intro "The End" with its strings and reverberating guitar tones has the vibe of an Ennio Morricone soundtrack, close your eyes and you can almost feel the heat on your face, see the snakes sidewinding their way across the dunes and the scorpions scuttling for the safety of the rocks. The appropriately named "Desert Rider" follows, a gnarly riffed fuzz drenched opus boasting a Kyuss flavoured hard/desert rock groove decorated with a gritty lead vocal backed up by a serene counter melody. Next track "Sortilëdge" begins with an achingly beautiful cello motif that is then joined by the rest of the band in what is essentially a heavy psych instrumental but due to its spiralling intensity feels like so much more. "Desperado" follows, a shape shifting, slow building behemoth that employs everything from Hawkwind-esque swirls to bluesy orchestral swells, its brief vocal passages delivered in clean melodic and suitably hazy tones. So far Cleõphüzz desert flavoured grooves have had a somewhat North American bias but "Sarcophage" sees the band casting their gaze towards the deserts of North Africa and the Middle-East, eastern motifs are legion throughout this enthralling instrumental and the musicianship on display here is on another level. "When the Siren Blows" is up next and is a much more gnarled and raucous affair, the guitars tones here are darker and fuzzier and a touch more caustic a feel mirrored in the songs vocals which are delivered with a ragged throatiness. Tile track "Mystic Vulture". rightly or wrongly. reminded us of All Them Witches, not so much in sound but in the way this song is constructed, the band building the song up one layer at a time, the music slowly moving towards a crescendo only to be pulled back at the last minute to start the process all over again. Final song " Sundown in the Afterlife" is an uplifting instrumental built around a circular groove that every now and then erupts into gnarliness only to fall back in on itself again only deviating from this path as it reaches its climax whereby an element of bluesy melancholy enters into the equation., stunning stuff!
Cleõphüzz, Joe (lead guitar/vocals); Alex (rhythm guitar/noise); Carolune (cello/sitar); Freink (bass) and Josh (drums), as a band may be no more but they have left us with a thing of real beauty in "Mystic Vulture". Cleõphüzz have not gone out with a whimper, like so many bands before them, they have walked into the sunset guns blazing and their hats cocked at a jaunty angle.
Check 'em out ....
© 2023 Frazer Jones