22 April, 2021

Yerba Mansa – Five Years

Yerba Mansa, formed in 2014, are a duo consisting of guitarist Edwin Stevens (Irma Vep, Robert Sotelo) and improv drummer Andrew Cheetham (Richard Dawson, Kiran Leonard).

Their new EP ‘Five Years’ is their first release via Newcastle based label Box Records.

The expanse of their psychedelic free rock sound has always been remarkable for just two people, and here they add a new collaborator in multi-instrumentalist Dan Bridgwood-Hill.

Opening track “The Crawl & OTO Redux” is an enthralling, almost 20 minute, sonic journey through Can-like monotony, trippy Amon Duul psychedelia and beyond. Stevens’ gigantic walls of sound and Cheetham’s wild drumming are captivating. Bridgwood-Hill adds atmospheric texture that knits the two wilder components together.

They layer frazzled fuzzed out hooks, collapse into scattered breakdowns and build powerful crescendos throughout.

“Train Dreams or Something” is a meditative, repetitive, somehow mantra-like instrumental that feels like it is desperately trying to escape and lose control, yet remains tethered by its form.

The raucous opening of “Return of Buckethead” recalls Japanese psych legends Boredoms at their most wild and freeform… and it never really lets up! It’s an exercise in wild intensity, with thick forests of feedback, wah and what sounds like distant, manic chanting.

They round things off in initially more gentle fashion on “Jesus Christ Motorbike II”, although this is no less free. The violin sings like Jeff Buckley in full banshee mode, while the guitar washes underneath. The drums crash and scatter to complete a potent and heady potion.

‘Five Years’ is intense yet somehow paradoxically calming at the same time. An album to just lie back and let sink in.

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