In days of old, the ancients spoke of records made of vinyl that played on both sides. Strangely, you had to get up and turn them over before placing a little needle in their grooves. Back in days of yore, bands knew of nothing else and wrote music to fit each side so that you didn’t get a break in the middle of a great solo or worst. Quaint huh?
Stockholm’s Siena Root has a perfect understanding of this concept and have produced an album which, despite arriving on a single sided piece of plastic, is perfectly divided into two parts, or two Different Realities, actually.
Different Realities is the fourth studio album from the jam,hippy hardrockers from Sweden. The first side “We” (25.33) is divided into four tracks and the second “The Road To Agartha” (25.37) has six. The result, after a years worth of work, is a fantastic, mind numbingly effective, trip out through hippyville, the East, and beyond.
Formed in the late nineties Siena Root has released three previous albums the last being the impressive Far From The Sun. Since then the rotating vocalist position has moved round again with the latest change leading to an album made up largely of excellent instrumental moments.
The album arrives boasting “51 minutes of pure analogue recording” and eases into “We Are Them”, the introductory track of the four part “We”. With spaced, phased vocals and acoustic guitar the opening is like something out of Led Zeppelin III's long lost outtakes. Effortlessly, Rush also appear through the mist taking you deeper into this inspired opener.
“In The Desert” introduces the first gorgeous eastern theme that spice the album throughout with clouds of colourful incense. Wonderfully evocative, you could be filling your lungs from a shisha pipe as you watch the swirls of sand around your feet. In case you were in danger of drifting further away, “Over The Mountains” revives you by slapping your senses back to life.
“We” ends with “As We Return”, a throbbing jam that suddenly revisits Zeppelin again, albeit their blues roots this time. “Bairagi” opens “The Road To Agartha”, or side two, weaving its magic and leading seductively into a superbly spaced out “Bhairavi”. It is a track that has visual imagery strong enough to sear your eyeballs.
“Ahir Bhairav” conjures up a hypnotic sitar smoked spell that leaves you rising to its call like a snake in a basket. When the flute emerges through the haze, I’m gone, on a journey to mystical India in search of a guru. Different Realities, indeed.
“Bhimpalasi” arrives seamlessly like a beautiful hybrid of Jethro Tull and Ravi Shankar. “Shree” continues the theme and has me levitating around the holy sites of Rishikesh. George Harrison would love it.
“Jog” brings the whole experience to an, all too soon, yet quite magnificent, ending with a further mind trip along the Ganges as east meets the Different Realities of the west.
If this was vinyl I know that I would play side two so often that the grooves would become valleys. That isn’t to say side one is weak, far from it. All in all this album, as a whole, represents Siena Roots finest hour.