Decriminalized smoothness


I’ll admit to having attempted to inhale once or twice in my life, long ago, with mixed results; but Andee doesn’t even drink (although, he has been known to overdo it a bit with the NyQuil when he’s got a cold). So we’re basically two drug-free individuals, bordering on straight edge in Andee’s case. I mention this just in order to say, this isn’t the first time we’ve wondered what it means that we find that a LOT of the music we both enjoy is rather overtly drug-oriented (influenced by drugs, encouraging the use of drugs, meant to be listened to on drugs, etc.). Maybe that’s not surprising, of course, since the Venn diagram overlap of ‘drugs’ and ‘music’ is a big fat one. But still, we wonder, why do we spend so much listening time in that zone? Are we hoping for a ‘second-hand smoke’ effect of some sort? Is there something that we’re missing out on, since we love the likes of Monster Magnet and Electric Wizard so much, not to mention being into bands with names like Bongripper, Harsh Toke, and Salem’s Pot, without ever getting high? (Allan also likes the ‘80s German NDW band Spliff a lot, but that’s another story).

So, when Swedish psych label Subliminal Sounds put out an album by a band called, simply, Hashish, figured that’d be one we’d probably dig too, imagining some primitive krauty drum circle thing, and/or blown out heavy stoner jamming, but it turns out that Hashish ain’t heavy or hippy like that. Nope, this is a different sort of dope music, that’s more like some sort of new age exotica, smooth and soothing, Hashish laying down a very blissful brand of space funk that’s just this side of cheesy, with percolating grooves (someone gave that drummer some) propelling the listener through lusciously synth-sizzled, serene, sunny soundscapes. Whoosh. Hashish have plenty of glide in their stride, and zip in their zap, on such cuts as “Outer Spaced” (some stoned boom bap there, with shades of “Blow Your Head” style synthesizer action). Mostly instrumental, with occasional vocoder interjections, and female vocals on “Fly Away,” A Product Of Hashish is a synth trek that folks who appreciate the (amazing) West Coast album by Studio just might want to investigate, the vibes are kinda convergent.

The main guy here is a fellow named Stefan Kéry, who was in freeky ‘80s garage psych revivalists The Stomach Mouths, by the way, and also in a band/project called Zonk whom I only know from their cover of “Sweet Leaf” on a Swedish Sabbath tribute comp - so no wonder I thought Hashish might sound like another Skogen Brinner, or Dungen, but they fit more with the strain of Subliminal Sounds releases like Ìxtahuele that celebrate an important proto-psychedelic music genre: exotica (see Patrick Lundborg’s book Psychedelia - An Ancient Culture, A Modern Way Of Life, pages 103-126, for more on that subject). The more I listened, the more I liked - and remember, it was only the music working on me. Groovy. (–Allan)

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