Lightbulb Vaporizer begin their jam with a solid piece of bluesy desert rock. Feeding off each other whilst waiting for the cosmic nod, this band has surely spent a significant period of its life riding riffs and grooves to their natural conclusion. Tones of Earthless and Fatso Jetson wail from the speakers as the band sinks into the intangible artform of nurturing musical chemistry. Recorded completely live in the band’s own living space (hence the title), this could have been done no other way. This music is all about the moment, getting into ‘the pocket’ and playing from sheer intuition.
“Light in the Grey Haze| is the first piece, an instrumental psychedelic blues jam that introduces us to this excellent trip. Allowing the space between the notes to breathe and the sustain of the guitar fill out the stereo-field, the rhythm section patiently waits for conditions to build toward their entrance. The drum intro to second track “Esoteric” allows us to hear the great separation that the band has achieved when miking themselves up for the recording. Whilst there is an argument to say that perhaps a slightly muddier mix would’ve given the album a more cohesive sound, the skill with which this albums sound has been engineered cannot be denied.
By the time middle piece “Vapor Constellation” comes around there is a gnawing sense of ambiguity creeping into the experience. This album would have been absolutely ensconcing to play and for those that were ‘there at the time’, it is a souvenir of a truly magical session. But the relevance of psychedelic improvisation in the recorded form is certainly questionable. Is this a genre that really only works live and preferably in a transcended mind state?
The journey continues and I choose fresh perceptions. Every working band needs a product and why should jam acts be any different? The playing and creativity on this album are enough entertainment in their own right. The psychedelia and spacey-ness of the guitar solo’s is Hendrix-esque at times and I tend to get the feeling that Jimi probably would’ve approved. The bass and drums are very polished sounds and this may potentially alienate stoner doom fans looking for some sludgier tones. Still there is plenty of opportunity to be anaesthetised by droning riffs and so the journey is worth the effort for the open minded.
It is a long, long ride though and unless you’re 100% behind the sound of this recording and with the musical themes therein, it can definitely become a somewhat onerous listen. By the time the album pre-closer “Lava Lamp” lands I felt relief instead of mind-blown. For mine, I’d much rather the structured drone of Sleep’s dopesmoker to an hour of wandering psych jams.
While nothing can take away this bands chops and their ability to respond very intuitively to each other’s musical signals, there is a touch to much meandering and not enough mud. The musicianship and engineering is impressive and certainly the concept of the band is something I’m interested to see explored further. Thanks for the jams Lightbulb Vaporizer may you continue to descend deeper into stonerrrrr dooooooooom.
Written by Scott Andrews