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In terms of her uninhibited approach to the creation of art, the presence and acknowledged influence of the legendary Yoko Ono looms large on Intro/Outro, the third full-length offering from Canadian psych-rock trailblazers, Moths & Locusts. As Ono enjoys a long-overdue vinyl reissue campaign in 2017, so her champions like this brilliant Nanaimo, BC outfit harness her exploratory spirit for a new audience. Mirroring Ono's ostensibly unlikely team-ups with such as Questlove or Sparks, in a bold yet thrilling move the band collaborated on this radical new album with world renowned producer Rob the Viking from multi-award-winning hip hop crew, Swollen Members, for only his second outing recording a rock band.
The result is extraordinary. Following on from 2013's startling debut, Mission Collapse in the Twin Sun Megaverse, and powerful sophomore release, Helios Rising (2016), Intro/Outro represents a natural sonic progression for Moths & Locusts, yet with prominent use of vocalization over lyrics for most of the material, rendering the album largely atmospherically instrumental, it is also something of a departure. While Moths & Locusts' music has always remained woozily psychedelic, although as hauntingly beautiful as previous recordings Intro/Outro is also markedly infused with a previously unseen darkness.
This sonic territory is immediately established with the opener, "Acid Cloud Pt.1," featuring the chilling vocalization of sleeve design artist Valentina Cardinalli, moaning and screaming behind a slow-burning psych rock assault. Cardinalli stars elsewhere, as does guest flautist Samantha Letourneau, especially on the trippy, fuzz-funk epic, "Sea Hell," in which a spoken word sample from Joseph M. Mauro's British Columbia: One Hundred Years 1871-1971 is inventively placed. "Hymn to Hathor" pays homage to the Egyptian goddess of, amongst other things, music and dance, before the speaker-destroying "Strange Space" sees the band in pummeling stoner-rock form.
The intense, grinding "Acid Cloud Pt. 2" is pure menace, inducing chills down the spine before the relatively serene "Scream" and the fractured "Roadside" offer respite from the overwhelming power of all that came before. Like Laibach jamming with Hawkwind, 'He Who Has the Most Strings" leads into the weird, dubby closer, "Martian Sunrise," to conclude a remarkable forty minutes of contemporary psychedelic rock music. Like the previous Moths & Locusts albums the recordings were mastered by Bob Weston (Shellac, Mission of Burma, Nirvana's In Utero).