What do you get when you take an L.A. based French guitarist with Middle Eastern psychedelic influences and a seven-man backing band? You get Blaak Heat, the latest signing to Tee Pee Records.
Shifting Mirrors sounds sorta like the last couple OM albums, if they were being covered by Tia Carrerra. The chill, oriental vibes come crashing head-on with up-tempo psych-rock riffage on “Anatolia,” while “Sword of Hakim” leans heavier on the psychedelic side, with a driving backbeat somewhat akin to Earthless. We get some actual Middle-Eastern instruments (kanun, oud, darbuka) on tracks like “The Approach to Al-Mu’tasim” along with a very Cisneros-sounding bass line—and vocal, for that matter—eventually adopting a rather brisk march.
I can dig the rolling grooves of “Ballad of Zeta Brown,” which has a bit of a spaghetti-western-soundtrack vibe. I could hear this in a Sergio Leone—or a Quentin Tarantino—movie. The guitar solo in “Black Hawk” really stands out, as they allow the notes to linger and ring out over several seconds. The interlude “Tamazgha” is downright doomy, with a slow bass-drum beat and distorted guitar. There is something in the guitar tone that offers an otherworldliness, an interesting effect that makes it sound more foreign and exotic. Something you definitely don’t hear from OM, a band without a dedicated guitar player.