“3, 2, 1, 0…All engines running. Liftoff!” The first arpeggiated synth of Giobia‘s new album Plasmatic Idol rings out and jettisons me into space. In keeping with the space theme, the title of the opening track, “Parhelion,” refers to the shimmering spot in the sky which appears on either side of the sun as a result of the refraction of sunlight through ice crystals in Earth’s atmosphere. Giobia are definitely not n00bs to the space rock genre. The Italian four-piece have already been around the block a handful of times releasing psychedelic jams and are back this year with their fifth heavy, spaced-out rock album. Plasmatic Idol is comprised of eight glistening tracks to accompany you on an intergalactic journey.
I would be misguided to pigeonhole Giobia and label them solely as space rock, however. On Plasmatic Idol, Giobia often stray from the confines of psychedelia and progressive rock to borrow from and experiment with blending elements from a mishmash of other genres and different worlds. Albums like Plasmatic Idol truly make me realize the extent to which different genres feed off of each other. Genres I believe exist on different planets and do not belong together are more often than not intertwined in interesting ways. I’m no expert in the evolution of musical genres, but it seems to me that this common occurrence of genres piggybacking off of each other helps contribute to the establishment of new categories of music. This piggybacking is evident on Giobia‘s latest record, which pulls from Italian prog, 70’s horror soundtrack music, 60’s garage rock, Californian psych, and even krautrock.
Plasmatic Idol starts strong with “Parhelion.” Sounding somewhere in between the Blade Runner and Stranger Things soundtracks, “Parhelion” sounds like what I imagine would be the result if Pink Floyd and Tangerine Dream wrote a song together. The Pink Floyd influences do not let up throughout the rest of the album. All eight of the tracks harken back to the psychedelic rock superstars, especially “Haridwar” and “The Escape.” The vintage organ on ballad track “Haridwar” helps make the track sound like a blast from the past. The subtle tempo changes leading into smooth, jazzy breakdown sections kept me on my toes. “The Escape” quickly falls into a groove and chugs along, reminding me of many moments on Pink Floyd‘s Meddle. The genre cliche I was most surprised to hear on this record was the krautrock motorik-style beat present on “Parhelion,” “In the Dawnlight,” and final track “In the Mirror House.” Paired with the old school organ parts, these songs brought to mind krautrock, lounge music, and the band Stereolab. “Far Behind” struggled to find its place among the other tracks but has a distinctly ethereal part three minutes in that I cannot get enough of.
Unfortunately, Plasmatic Idol isn’t as fascinating as a quasar or as beautiful as a starscape. The production quality on the record isn’t quite up to par with the quality of other bands occupying the space rock and related spaces. It’s apparent that the mixing and mastering is done professionally as heard by the careful balance of guitars, bass, organ, percussion, and synths. Brett Orrison, who has worked with Jack White and The Black Angels is the human to thank for the superb mixing and mastering work. But even the world’s best mastering genius cannot salvage the hastily put together recordings that make up Plasmatic Idol.
Here, yet again, I come to the conclusion of a review for an album I dug up from the promo pits that should by no means be classified as metal. A sliver of me worries that this recurring theme will slowly whittle away at my brvtality score. If so, shrug. Plasmatic Idol is a stimulating combination of space rock sounds and psychedelic moods some of those who read this blog may still find worth paying attention to. Is it as wacko and unexpected as say King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard‘s music? That’s a hard no. Nevertheless, Plasmatic Idol is a fun treat if heavy psych rock piques your interest.