After Jesus Acedo, the legendary guitarist and leader of Tucson, Arizona based psych rock band Black Sun Ensemble, died in 2013 the band didn't want to just stop playing but couldn't carry on as BSE either. So they changed their name into Cobracalia after a track on the first BSE album, and continued honoring the music and visions of Acedo in their own, fresh way. I'm glad they did, since this is a marvelous album.
First we get the Eastern tingled, rhythmical "Dandyloin" that sounds pretty much like the latter day BSE with its percussion and odd melodies and solo guitar work. Nice! "Fistful of Flowers" also includes vocals and even a chorus but the mystical vibe is quite similar to the opener. I love the violin on this one. "Arabic Satori" is at first a bit more laid-back, but gets intense and heavy in the middle sounding sort of like King Crimson. "Mandala" is a groovy and percussive track reminding some of the old BSE stuff and I like it a lot. The shortest piece is "Wrong Again" at 2:32 and it has weird, whispered vocals and an almost jazzy mood with some sax. The atmospheric and melancholic "Queen of the Night" is one of the best pieces in my opinion. The going gets wilder towards the end... "Total Internal Reflection" is a mellow keyboard-driven thing, and electronic/acoustic percussion are added later on as well as some electric guitar etc. "Egyptian Magician" is one of the highlights and has a magical, ethnic vibe with all the oud, percussion etc. but there's also some heavy guitar. "Simpatico" has a slow, dub-like beat and some electronic effects. "Lotus" has a more acoustic vibe and sounds just wonderful and refreshing. "Tijuana Mama" is a beautiful, soulful and mellow piece, and the longest track on the album called "Gas Giant" is a majestic, melancholic and beautiful tribute to Jesus Acedo bringing to mind "The Golden Void" by Hawkwind. Amazing ending for a great album! Be sure to check out this CD.
-Psychotropic Zone, December 2014Cobracalia “Cobracalia” (SlowBurn Records, 2014) Born from the ashes of Arizona’s legendary freak folk psychedelicists Black Sun Ensemble, Cobracalia (named after a track from BSE’s debut album) reunites several BSE members with friends and extended family musicians for this debut. Moving beyond the ruminative, navel-gazing instrumentals BSE was famous for (although the atmospheric, keyboard-driven ‘Total Internal Reflection’ and ‘Lotus’ are here to remind us), Cobracalia is into a more percussive-heavy, drum-circle vibe (half the eight musicians are credited with various forms of percussion, including dumbek, congas, djembe, zills, and various acoustic and electronic percussives courtesy multi-instrumentalist Scott Kerr). BSE’s Eastern-leaning sensibilities are still felt in opener ‘Dandyloin’, which sounds like something you might hear filling the air at a Moroccan souk, while the swirling, Middle Eastern-flavoured ‘Arabic Satori’ reworks the BSE classic, originally released on Starlight (Camera Obscura, 2003). Dance (particularly belly dancing) is a key component of much of Cobracalia’s musical palette, with Fonda Insley’s belly dancing ensemble often accompanying live performances, so you certainly won’t be shortchanged when it comes to the tribal, almost hallucinatory rhythmic pulse that permeates the album. And Eric Johnson (not the Texas guitarist) and Michael Henderson add the occasional inflammatory guitar workouts to keep Cobracalia’s toes in the more traditional Western rock idiom. Elsewhere, we have flautist Joe Furno’s funky, butt-shaking ‘Wrong Again’ (one of the album’s few vocal tracks), Jillian LaCroix-Martin’s sinewy violin serpentining through ‘Queen of The Night’ and the transcendental closer ‘Gas Giant’, and Eric Johnson’s ‘Tijuana Mama’, a fitting and lovingly-executed tribute to BSE’s late leader/guitarist Jesus Acedo, who died last March. Johnson captures Acedo’s fluid guitar lines (worthy of a Santana or Satriani) without falling into copycat, fan boy adoration. A fitting tribute to, and expansion of the exotic, dreamy, other-worldly musical soundscapes engineered by Black Sun Ensemble, Cobracalia [the band] is an exciting project in its own right andCobracalia [the album] is certainly worthy of your attention, earning a respectable position next to your BSE albums in your personal psychedelic music library. Review made by Jeff Penczak/2014