Apparently The Sufis have built a time machine down in Nashville, and its existence is manifest in their new self-titled record. The Sufis is a transporting, swirling and loose love letter to the grooves and experimentation of the nascent hey day of Floyd, et al and the swinging underground. Far from being a meticulously crafted retro-fitted proxy outfit though, The Sufis weave in enough twists and turns to keep it from being a reheat. A seemingly loose band with ‘interchangeable’ roles, The Sufis admit they don’t how or why they make music, but the important point is they do. And The Sufis is the proof. There’s no escaping the points of reference such as Floyd and swinging Beatles, but through all the lava lamplight, they put their own stamp on the proceedings, and process, as well as roping in other tangents. Lemming Circle Dance begins like a ghost of early Floydisms, but then detours into a different flavored wobbling that dovetails seamlessly in and makes it all the more richer. The short interlude In the Ashram does much the same. Underneath the obvious reflections and wellsprings, the thought process comes across as just as crucial as the songs themselves. You can strip away all the paisley ornateness and filigree and there are actual songs that remain. Without that basic framework, they wouldn’t have much to hang their Technicolor coats on. The Sufis manage to pack enough freak outs, mind and ear candy, into such short bursts that they do away with the need for lengthy unnecessary noodling. That flair for saying 30 minutes worth in 3 minutes makes it not just accessible for the timid, but actually makes it hit that much harder…and trippier. There’s a lot to be said, obviously, for pushing the envelope, but more often than not the effectiveness, and benefits, of pushing back is overwhelmed by the hollow promise of the new. What The Sufis do by trafficking in psychedelia and dragging into the light what made some of those initial forays so long-lasting and excitingly effective is, in a sense, is approach the form as traditional. They aren’t the definitive statement, now or then, if there is one; they’re part of the stream, a flow that goes both ways…at the same time when the tide is just right. It works, fantastically, as both pure ear candy frosting and goods that stick to your ribs. It’s telling in many ways that they appropriated a name that references shunning indulgence and embracing discipline, then effectively practicing and executing it by doing just the opposite. If that swirling circular dichotomy isn’t what a lot of…this…is all about, then someone needs to point out the beginning, and the end and be done with it. Thankfully The Sufis are incapable, and unwilling, to do that.
Sri Sai Flora :: The Sufis :: The Sufis (2012, Ample Play/Burger Records)
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The Sunrise Ocean Bender sets sail every Monday morning, 1 – 3 a.m. on WRIR lp 97.3 FM, to find something for your ears, and something for your head … From psych to prog to pop and whatever tributary we can find on the way … and right back around again. There might be a map, but the destination is up for grabs. If it all goes right, we may just get lost. Meet me at the muster station … it might be a long week.