Jess And The Ancient Ones - The Horse And Other Weird Tales album review
Occult Finnish psych rockers’ successful reboot
This is the right album at the right time for Jess And The Ancient Ones, who initially got caught up in the whole ‘occult retro rock with a female vocalist’ wave alongside The Devil’s Blood, Blood Ceremony and Jex Thoth. Jess (no surname needed) is a spellbinding vocalist with both the range and confidence of Jefferson Airplane’s Grace Slick. Yet somehow, since their self-titled debut they lost focus, and the combined release of two lacklustre albums in 2015 – their own The Second Psychedelic Coming and I by The Exploding Eyes Orchestra, a soundalike offshoot – led to a dead end. Concept-wise, The Horse And Other Weird Tales may still be full of references to mushroom clouds and tuning in and dropping out, but its surprising concision (it’s only 35 minutes long and most songs come in at under three minutes) and subtle dynamic shift is the shot in the arm they required. While more fixated than ever on a late-60s sound, the keyboards (from Hammond organ to Fender Rhodes to Moog) now lead short, punchy tracks. The notable exception is album closer Anyway The Minds Flow, which manages to fuse the old with the new.