Written by: The Administrator
Here at ye olde Sleeping Village, relaxation is a rare commodity and, as such, is exceedingly hard to come by--much like "food without maggots" and "medicine that doesn't kill you." But sometimes, when the workload and the stress becomes too much, this particular scribe will steal away some time to simply chill in the river, feeling the current, watching the clouds roll by, and allowing the ol' brain a a brief moment to simply breath. Of course, if you are one to partake of substances, they won't go amiss in this hypothetical.
Such occasions call for an appropriate soundtrack, and today, the debut EP from Colorado's Buffalo Tombs will do the job nicely. Merkabah/Hekhalot was released back in October of 2020--practically an eternity ago--but I return to it quite frequently, and feel like it deserves a lil' spot in the limelight, lest it fall prey to the sands of time. Let's dive in, shall we?
Nominally "lo-fi high-desert stoner-psych," Buffalo Tombs play mind-altering tunes with a penchant for exploratory passages and sublime acid-laden groove. It's a borderline hallucinogenic combo, and if you aren't laying back with a pair of headphones, you're probably doing it wrong. This thing is built for that liminal place between consciousness and daydreams, and if that liminal space appeals, you can hardly go wrong with what Merkabah/Hekhalot offers.
While we are typically loathe to provide discussion on a track-by-track basis, it feels somewhat more natural here, as this EP contains three tracks proper, with a (primarily) atmospheric intro and outro added to the overall total for good measure. Thus, after some scene-setting, things truly fire up on track two with the excellent "Malkuth (the kingdom)." Featuring ethereal vocals and pleasantly sultry bass, this spaced-out trek feels like a remnant of an alternate history where Pink Floyd were, through some fluke, the progenitors of doom metal. It is comforting, and blissfully psychedelic...but also intrinsically heavy by benefit of the aforementioned low end.
The Floyd-ian aesthetic carries into "Mishkhan (the tabernacle)"--a surprisingly funky track that, once again, leans into the bass presence. Once it gets going, the guitar is a lil' more acidic, particularly in the first half, dropping a tangible 70's sense of detached cool. At 10 minutes and change, this is the longest track herein, but, despite a lack of vocals, remains consistently engaging throughout. Like a slow walk through a familiar neighborhood, it never feels laborious, yet provides a wide array of new sights and sounds--assuming you're willing to pay attention to the passing details. Borderline meditative, it's not a vigorous or taxing ride...which is, y'know, kind of the point. Things take a slight turn into more overtly experimental fare with Ehyeh 'Asher 'Ehyeh (I AM THAT I AM) which delves into some odd hypnotic exploration, particularly in the case of the echoed vocals. After the extended trip that is "Mishkhan (the tabernacle,)" this last full track serves to rouse the listener. It's pretty damn effective, without being overbearing.
Rather than meandering around the point, I'll give it to you straight: Merkabah/Hekhalot is a vibe made for vibing, plain 'n' simple. If you're craving some pysch with some intrigue, or some doom without the intensity, Buffalo Tombs have ye sufficiently covered. Check it out on bandcamp, or nab a CD from Forbidden Place, if yer so inclined!
Buffalo Tombs - Merkabah/Hekhalot was released Oct. 25th, 2021
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!