The Danish 7-piece rock group, RED LAMA, released their debut album, ‘Dreams Are Free’, in 2016. The new album, ‘Motions’ was released 23rd February 2018 , and the first three singles, 'Post Optimism', 'Awakening' (feat. Bjonko) and 'Come What May', have all been well received by fans and critics.
Firstly, I'll admit I didn’t know much about RED LAMA but I’m glad I chose this to review! 'Motions' pushes boundaries like nothing I've heard before, a captivating narrative which explores reality; "Our lives and the space in which it unfolds are forever in motion and ever changing and are therefore eternal as such". ‘Motions’ is a collection of beautiful songs inspired by the classic rock n’ roll of the 60s and 70s. That said, the sound is far from dated and introduces us to a refreshing combination of kraut rock, psychedelia and art-rock, at times melancholic and other times euphoric, which takes the listener up and down the scale in both tempo and mood.
'Perfect Strangers' starts with a smooth drum beat and a cool rumbling bass, reaching deep into my soul and leaving its mark. The vocal is also silky smooth as the instrumentals lead me along on a tidal wave of calm. A lovely opening track, the pace of which is mainly soothing and tranquil with a few surges of emotion in the vocal, accompanied by the introduction of more instruments. There’s a dream-like quality to the sound and a depth to the vocal which goes down several hundred fathoms.
'Awakening' features Bjonko, a Balkan Beat Artist, Sax & Clarinet player, Composer, and Producer. The song starts off calmly until it "awakens" 2 minutes in with some kick-ass instrumentals with the now-familiar velvet-laden sultry vocal overlaid, and the clarinet like birdsong in a forest. The track builds to an impressive cacophony of instruments, as seems to be a trademark of the band. There is a video for this track on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Px9u8KNWoHs) which shows the conscience behind the song (poverty, politics) and illustrates some of the more hallucinogenic qualities well with trippy camera-work and effects. Best on the album. Genius.
The heavier drums are one of the stars, for me, in 'Post Optimism', a more upbeat track in which the vocals are melodic. The clever layering of the guitars, and the trippy keys add to a kaleidoscopic experience. 'Have A Great Today' and 'Come What May' are both earthy, biting, funky tracks, offering great hooks alongside the sultry vocals. How laid-back is this singer! I picture him half asleep, cigarette in mouth and tambourine in hand (probably completely wrong btw). These are both perfect tracks for chilled-out afternoons, looking out the window at rain lashing down. Again, the tempo and intensity fluctuates, especially so in 'Come What May' which is a rollercoaster ride soaring towards a faster, more urgent vocal - but I bet the singer still doesn’t break a sweat. So damn cool. The musicianship is outstanding, the outcome profound and imposing.
'Fular' is a funkier track with a gnarly guitar, stunning drums, a little bit of clarinet, and a tribal-inspired instrumental in places. Again, pushing boundaries to the limit and succeeding in creating a fresh, innovative sound that leaves you wanting more. 'Wave' is an atmospheric 2-minute track with haunting melodies; a pocket-rocket of euphoria which never quite gets off the ground.
'Elements I' has middle-eastern-like effects and limited lyrics which doesn't push my buttons, I'm sorry. Some of the instrumental comes across as a little too harsh through my headphones and I'm left underwhelmed for the first time. The closing track, 'Elements II', sums up the depth and quality of the album with a smooth, rumbling beat which climbs in tempo, and with the drums romping up a notch at 1:22, and has a Morrissey-melancholic vocal. The music brings the vocal to life, cleverly both depicting and leading the mood.
'Motions' is a fascinating combination of themes and styles which combine to make it a compelling alt-rock journey, a calm undercurrent with flashes psychedelia and bursts of power, where hard meets soft, rough meets smooth. A must-have if you like something a little different.
Awakening (feat. Bjonko)
Have A Great Today
Come What May
Johannes Havemann Kissov Linnet - Vocal
Morten Kaas - Organ, harmonica and other effects
Marius Havemann Kissov Linnet - Drums
Frederik Randrup Hansen - Bass
Jonas Harboesgård Rahbek - Guitar
Oliver Asbjørn Fick - Guitar
Niklas Sjøbeck Jørgensen - Percussion
Genre: Neo-psych / Alternative rock / Mood rock
Label: All Good Clean Records