It’s some four years since the release of Bison’s acclaimed debut single, “Way To LA”, the result of a series of productive studio sessions between Paul ‘Mudd’ Murphy, longtime collaborator Ben Smith, krautrock legend Holgar Czukay and vocalist Ursa Major. Since then, Murphy and Smith have made a number of return trips to Can’s Innerspace Studio in Cologne, where Czukay famously conjures his out-there musical magic.
The result is ‘Travellers’, the quartet’s long-promised debut album. It is, by anyone’s standards, a deliciously dubby and intergalactic concoction; a fearlessly atmospheric blend of krautrock and dub disco-inspired grooves, delay-laden horns, quirky percussion, stargazing electronics and eyes-wide-shut vocals. The dub influence is particularly notable given Bison’s love of “versioning” tracks. Three of the tracks - “Way To LA”, “New Moon Boy”, and “Familiar Stranger” (the latter two mixed by Conrad Idjut, who also turns the album’s title track into a clandestine, French-horn-laden late night masterpiece) - appear in “Day” and “Night” versions. Meanwhile, previous single “Mandy” - a murky spaced-out stroll though the collective Bison hivemind - is also included in two forms, with the Balearic stoner rock of the “Power Boy Mix” offering a sun-kissed (but still deliciously atmospheric) reinterpretation.
Highlights are naturally plentiful, with Ursa Major’s half-spoken, half-whispered vocals wrapping themselves around spacious rhythms, shuffling drums, twinkling, effects-laden guitars and low-slung basslines. ‘Travellers’ is an album rich
on other-worldly intent, sparse grooves and thick, enveloping production. It’s exactly the sort of album you’d expect from musicians and producers of this calibre. We may have been waiting a while, but Bison have definitely delivered.
1. Way To LA (Day)
2. Way To LA (Night)
4. Mandy (Power Boy Mix)
5. Familiar Stranger (Day)
6. Familiar Stranger (Night)
7. New Moon Boy (Day)
8. New Moon Boy (Night)
Vinyl gatefold released September 1
Digital released September 8
C56LP007 © Claremont 56 2014