It’s been two years since I’ve heard from perhaps one of the most mind-blowing bands to come out of Chicago which is Crown Larks. Now back in 2015, I was on the edge of my seat when I listened to their debut album entitled, Blood Dancer and reviewed it here on my blog site, Music from the Other Side of the Room. It was this cross between Free-Jazz, Psychedelic music, Avant-Rock, Pop, Shoegaze, and Krautrock influences and taking those genres into a whole new level.
This year, they’ve released their second album which is a follow up to their debut album entitled, Population. Crown Larks are back for seconds and on their second release, they’ve up the ante even more. Jack Bouboushian’s guitar has this surreal and haywiring effect while vocals brings to mind of CAN’s Damo Suzuki. Echoing delay/reverb effects set up some of the most insane moments on here that brings to mind both The Velvet Underground and CAN’s first four albums in their early years and Ash Ra Tempel’s Manuel Gottsching.
Lorraine Bailey’s keyboard work at times sets up the psych/spacey approach of the styles between Jazz, Garage Rock, and Post-Rock voyages. Her flute playing reminisce between Mel Collins of King Crimson and Ray Thomas of the Moody Blues as if they were taking a dark and hidden force that would have made both of these bands work well together and making an album that beyond the singles and into something sinister.
You have some of these intensive melodies that is like looking through a glowing crystal ball that is about to burst at any second to find out what is going to happen next. Whether you’ll be sucked into another parallel universe or bright lights blinding you for six highlights that is on Paranomal that will make you as a listener, be a part of another journey with Crown Larks.
Swoon (For Hampton) has this Rhodes-sque keyboard delving into some heavy waters recalling Manfred Mann’s Chapter Three’s sole self-titled debut album as Bill Miller’s intensive drum sets the alarm clock ready to go off at any minute while Peter Gillette’s trumpet blares like a howling beast reminiscing of Miles Davis’ late ‘60s/early ‘70s sounds of his beginnings in the Jazz Rock territory. Meanwhile, Curt Owen’s baritone sax goes into various sections of the room.
He goes from one place to another as you can imagine it was something straight out of the sessions between Miles Davis’ In a Silent Way and CAN’s Ege Bamyasi while Burn It Down feels almost as if it was something straight out of the 2-LP Nuggets compilation. Part-Garage, Part-Spacey, Part-Psych, and Part-Jazz into a blender while Goodbye has this organ beginning with an ominous atmosphere.
You can imagine if Crown Larks are doing scores for three films; Alejandro Jodorowsky’s El Topo, David Lynch’s Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, and Eiichi Yamamoto’s 1973 surreal anime masterpiece, Belladonna of Sadness. Jack and Lorraine set up vocalizations between them for a mournful ceremony followed by feedback of guitars and then delving into delay/reverb effects to set up this deserted landscape.
You can imagine setting the scenery being in the hottest part of the day with small amounts of food and water with you as Jack hit these chords followed by Bill and Matt’s Bass following him before finding shelter in the coolest yet cold area to get away from the hot sun. Then there’s the ascending heavenly nightmarish opener, Howls.
Lorraine’s flute sets up the controls to embark the listener to be a part of Crown Larks’ journey back into Space. She comes up with these brilliant improvisations and vocal work as Jack goes into his nod to Michael Karoli and screaming Suzuki effects before the hay wiring free-jazz section then back into the outer limits.
With a catchy and vibrant introduction by Matt Puhr’s bass while Bill sets up the scenario on his drums, React sees Jack and Lorraine walking into this dangerous passageway of a bizarre forest while he goes through the screaming intensive moments twice before the band charge up the jump to hyper speed to hurtle through the cosmos again.
In a Hawkwind-sque style in the mid-section of their late ‘70s period, it’s almost as if they teamed up with Ash Ra Tempel to go beyond the solar systems with some killer electric keyboard improve that Lorraine does. Then, we come to closing number, Stranger (Unce Down to the New Store). Crown Larks takes you back hurling back down to Earth on the closing track.
You have these alarming synths that reminisces of Pink Floyd’s VCS3 loop from On The Run knowing it will be the perfect time to land at the exact moment at the right time. Lorraine takes the stage on her vocals and it hits one by one to be in the first line very early in the morning at this new location, to get new groceries and clothes that you badly need.
Mind-boggling, weird, and hypnotic, Population is Crown Larks showing that they are not showing no sign of stopping. And the electrical voltages that they brought with them, is brighter and in your face. They are going to keep it growing more and more and you may never know what will the band think of next for their next adventure for many years to come.