Monday, April 7

Album Review: Agori Tribe – The Hard Mountain Tradition

Agori Tribe 
The Hard Mountain Tradition
2014

Birthed in Memphis, Tennessee, Agori Tribe combines rock, blues, jazz, reggae and psychedelia to create a whirlwind of sound and improvisation. The band is made up of Will Nicholls (guitar, samples), David Collins (guitar, samples, harmonics), Jeffery Naylor (bass), Dave Hash (keyboards, percussions), and Sean Naughton (drums). Citing influences such as Pink Floyd, The Doors, Ozric Tentacles, Snarky Puppy and My Morning Jacket, Agori Tribe has configured their own unique touch to psychedelic rock. They are one of those bands that continuously challenge their listeners to keep up and stay in touch with what is going on in the music. The band’s debut album, The Hard Mountain Tradition, is set for an official release on April 12, 2014. The album title has a bit of an interesting story. According to drummer Sean Naughton, “…the title is based on a bit of fridge poetry, which originally meant nothing whatsoever.” Since then, however, a meaning has grown within the words. Although Naughton admits they probably all have somewhat different interpretations, the title has come to represent how far the band has come and the uphill battle they have fought to get there.
“Sweet Naught Sour” starts off the album with a slow, heavy-hitting, funky groove. Clocking in at almost ten minutes, the song immediately sets a precedent for the rest of the album. While fairly simple, the main riff is catchy and forms a solid base for some long instrumental improvisation. Quirky and jazzy note choices in the solos keep the long jams intriguing and sinuous. Dark, dissonant, distorted chords introduce the next tune (entitled “…And Then I Saw A Universe”), followed by some more consonant chords to break the tension. Funky reggae vibes and accordion-sounding keyboards make up the primary riff for another long track.
“Lone Cock In The Field/Memories Of Childhood” begins with a beautifully somber strings and piano intro. Led by a powerful drum beat, the tune builds up with screeching guitar and raw emotion. Then, we get a funky piano-led groove, supplemented by a rockin’ guitar solo. A transition into double time begins a long build, culminating in massive staccato cracks. By the end of this tune, you won’t even know what happened or how you got there… you just know it rocked! Then, out of nowhere comes the beautiful and emotional acoustic guitar part titled “Memories Of Childhood.” A bit of feedback adds some flavor to this track, which was written for one of the band members’ friends who passed away. It is a beautiful ending for an already incredible song. The laid back groove of “Buttah Knife Blooze” is led by a unique guitar riff, complemented by rhythmic piano and echoing, psychedelic background chords. Finally, “Right Here” starts off with a deceptively quiet keyboard riff until the rest of the band kicks in with forceful, energetic chords. Swirling, hypnotic instrumentals trade off leading parts in this stretched out composition. This is a tune that seems to have very little structure. There are no recurring parts, which keeps listeners constantly engaged and on-edge, and pushes them to keep up with what is happening.
While there are only five songs on the album, the project spans over 53 minutes. The entire album is instrumental (no lyrics), and yet, the band is able to keep the songs interesting and dynamic. Agori Tribe has an uncanny ability to create these simple, catchy grooves and riffs that build and build into winding vortexes of aural elation. The simplicity is what makes it work. There’s so much space and distance within the structure, which allows the band to open up, improvise and fit the perfect notes in the perfect places. Also of note is the band’s ability to use dissonance to accent the harmonies, an old (but certainly not easy) jazz trick. Simply put, Agori Tribe is a talented young group with a bright future, and The Hard Mountain Tradition turned out to be an incredible debut album.
“Ragin’” Randy Harris
 ©Grateful Music LLC