free download! check out the mind-expanding “1% static” from psychedelic prog rock band galaxy of tar’s latest ep. #soundcheck

March 25, 2013

The thing that differentiates good prog from bad is whether the complex poly-rhythms and spontaneous key changes feel necessary or like the band is just sort of showing off. Galaxy of Tar’s songs may be complex, and certainly Elias Diaz V.’s musicianship is on full display, but on their latest EP Barretta, they earn every atonal guitar solo and sudden drum breakdown.

Part of what makes the EP work so well is the brevity. Prog (and psychedelic prog especially) has a tendency to indulge in 8 minute epic freak-outs, which may be transcendent live, but rarely are on record. Barretta‘s songs are tight mini-epics. The songs may not follow a pop format, but there’s not a single extraneous note. Singer Naima Mora is an ethereal but distinctly human presence, grounding songs that could easily become obsessed with their own mathematics. It’s fitting that the first track repeats the refrain “what it means to be human…” This is an EP all about the tension between the emotional and the mechanical.
It’s a testament to Elias Diaz V.’s chops that he’s comfortable exploring choas. His guitar work delves frequently into noise from melody and seems always on the brink of not making it back out. It’s one thing to bust out an Omar Rodriguez-Lopezesque guitar solo on the fantastic closer “Itself.” It’s another thing to be willing to push yourself right to the limits of your own skill and come inches away from losing control, but never doing so. 45 years after King Crimson, playing a song in a hybrid time signature isn’t actually taking a risk anymore. But an artist pushing themselves to the limit of what they themselves are capable of and succeeding brilliantly—if only by the skin of their teeth—will always be compelling. This is one tightwire act worth watching.
Lead single “1% Static” is available as a free download right now (click on “download” and enter “0” amount below):

– Words by Nathan Leigh