BY MICHAEL TOLAND
Compiling tunes released on limited-edition 12-inch vinyl records and adding some new tunes, Grails makes a case for itself as more than just the thinking man’s doommonger on Black Tar Prophecies 4, 5 & 6. The Portland instrumental aggregation hops all over the instrumental landscape here, from the piano ‘n’ strings pastorality of “Up All Night” and “A Mansion Has Many Rooms” and the shimmering ECM acoustica of “Ice Station Zebra” to the enigmatic trip-hop of “Chariots” and the sampled tomfoolery of “I Want a New Drug” (not a Huey Lewis & the News cover, thankfully).
The band hasn’t forgotten the acid-bathed doom that made its rep, however, as the rumbling melodiousness of “Self Hypnosis” and “Corridors of Power III” make plain. Despite being recorded at different times for separate purposes, the tracks still naturally sound like the product of one single creative hive mind, albeit one with extraordinary range. Black Tar Prophecies 4, 5 & 6 may not hew to a single impulse, but it’s a beautiful artistic self-portrait.
DOWNLOAD: “Self Hypnosis,” “Chariots,” “Ice Station Zebra”