Nov 5, 2012

Insider - "Vibrations from the Tapes" ...

It is a great honour for me to write about one of the coolest, long-lived heavy psych bands of Italy, mighty Insider from Pescara, Central Italy. This is a trve old-school heavy band in activity since 1991, when it was founded by the Ranalli brothers, and still rocking hard. 

Insider’s old albums were well known to the old Swampers and the followers of Nes’ great blog: especially Land of Crystal (1998), Jammin’ for a Smiling God (2000) and Simple Water Drops (2005). In such a long life a band might change something in its style. A change happened early in Insider as they actually started as doom-death metal-oriented band (see the 1996 self-titled album) but they rapidly abandoned the early style and concentrated more on the other components of their sound, i.e. psychedelic rock of the 70s and Helios Creed’s inspired psychedelia in their doom background.

The albums listed above are those where the band fully devoted to build up a heavy doom style contaminated by space psychedelia as well as fuzzy desert rock in the vein of Kyuss, Monster Magnet, etc. A kind of “cosmic doom riff rock”.

The doom element has always been the component making Insider’s music, in general, and riffs, in particular, substantially heavy. The persistence of doom was probably further enforced by the presence, in the early line-up, of members related to doom bands like Requiem and The Black and the dark heavy prog-doom band Akron (inspired by Jacula, Antonius Rex and the like). Not a surprise that Insider’s early albums saw Paul Chain involved in the mixing stage … Another feature of the above albums is the presence of vocals: powerful, gritty and warm, “heavy metal” vocals that made early reviewers to compare Insider’s vocalist to singers like Bruce Dickinson, Dio, and so on, when not deformed as in Helios Creed’s watery space fashion. But the main feature to be caught in past and present Insider is their multifaceted blend of psychedelic rock.

Insider’s heavy psychedelia is both mind-warping and hallucinatory and drenched in boiling hot blues, the kind of psychedelia heavily relying on guitars, on real riffs even if strained at utmost, more than on fancy, icy-cold electronics. Therefore in Insider one may find inspirations and quotations from old monsters like Hawkwind, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, from old psych-prog rock, from Krautrock and possibly also from Outskirts of Infinity and/or other legendary acts of the past British heavy, acid blues psych scene.  Old sounds absorbed and reworked with modern sensitivity and personal creativity in an over 20 years-long career in music …

Well, so many words to say that, as promised some years ago, Insider band is back as a trio (with Marco and Piero Ranalli on guitar and bass, respectively, and Stefano Di Rito on drums) and with a new, instrumental-only album, Vibrations from the Tapes. The vibrations of the album title are those “vibes”, emotional vibes, and the tapes are actual analog tapes, as the five tracks of this new substantial album come from a direct recording on a stereo tape deck with two microphones originally done in a rehearsal studio in the autumn/winter of 2007. The five tracks sum up to almost 80 minutes and derive from psychedelic instrumental jam sessions with total improvisation. The original recordings have been gracefully mastered by Gianmarco Iantaffi (in band Void Generator) and then released as limited edition (200 copies) via the Italian label Phonosphera  Records.

If you are skeptic about jam sessions, well, try these ones!
When I got the CD and first heard it, without remembering about the story of the jamming, I didn’t realize that it was all improvised! This because the mental and emotional connection between these musicians is so great and deep that each of these monumental suites (up to 27 minutes-long) flows away in an incredibly smooth way even if the suites are often made of really complex, clever, braided melodies, atmospheres, tempo changes, riffs and effects that seem to ignore the boundaries between the tracks.

So you enter the album and you just forget boundaries. You are immediately caught by the massive stream of Insider’s vintage-scented, polyedric psychedelia. You may be hooked by the jazzy pulsating bass, by the fuzzy distortions or by the spacey pedal effects dilating the sounds and your perceptions, by the mind-warping cymbals, by the hypnotic drumming patterns, by the escapes into lisergic jamming in honour of Jimi Hendrix and 13th Floor Elevators, by dreamy to boundless space rock trips, by the almost epic flourishing of riffs and rocking melodies when the band instinctively end up entering prog territories, …

This all-inclusive psych experience is provided by the five tracks of this monster album by Insider: Your Brainticket, Killing Boredom, Raga in the Sky, First Steps and Dark Age. The first 80 minutes will pass, and you’ll be back at the music as in a loop, addicted to it …

Well, be aware that this jamming album, Vibration from the Tapes, is not the only new thing from Insider.  In a recent interview for Aristocrazia Webzine, the band announced an imminent release of another, “real” new album comprising eight new, non-improvised, studio tracks with a complex structure and, again, completely instrumental.  Moreover Insider are taking part to the making of a massive tribute album to Helios Creed (more details HERE).
And possibly more awesome jam sessions will come afterwards …
In the meantime, get hold of Vibration from the Tapes out at Phonosphera Records!

Words:  Marilena Moroni

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Insider - '...vibrations from the tape...' Phonosphera Records 2012 (teaser)

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