In just a few weeks, Los Angeles-based heavy psych act Blaak Heat will released their third album, the excellent Shifting Mirrors. Released on the seminal psych/rock/experimental label Tee Pee Records (the band’s second for the label), the trio now debuts the latest track from the album, the meandering but constantly-captivating “Ballad of Zeta Brown.”
The band refers to their very unique heavy rock sound as “Arabian fuzz.” The self-styled genre descriptor is about as succinct and accurate as one could get in describing the extremely diverse range of music heard on Shifting Mirrors and “Ballad of Zeta Brown.” The six minute-plus epic is not actually a ballad in any way, shape or form – instead, the song takes the listener on a psychedelic journey that features Eastern-themed guitar riffs and rhythms, replete with bongo riffing and an ever-present wall of haze washed over the entire recording.
Said vocalist/guitarist and sole remaining founding member Thomas Bellier about the band’s newest track: “The song was inspired by the life and writings of Chicano lawyer and activist Oscar “Zeta” Acosta, also known as Hunter S. Thompson’s Samoan attorney, Dr Gonzo. We attempted to blend epic psychedelia and Latin vibes; the lead guitar tones are a 1960 Gibson SG played through an old Supro amp. Producer Matt Hyde layered some Mellotron and our good friend Nelson Bragg, from Brian Wilson’s band, added shaker and tambourine.”
Currently boasting a three-person lineup, the band was formed back in 2008 as Blaak Heat Shujaa by Bellier and bassist Antoine Morel-Vulliez in Paris, France. The two musicians were graduate students at the Paris Institute of Political Studies, and released one album in 2010, Blaak Heat Shujaa, before eventually relocating the band to Southern California. In 2013, the band released their sophomore record and debut for Tee Pee Records, The Edge of an Era. Following that LP, Morel-Vulliez left the band and was replaced by Henry Evans. Like band-leader Bellier, Evans spent a period of time as a member of Kirkpatrick Thomas’s long running psych-rock outfit Spindrift. Rounding out the current lineup of Blaak Heat is drummer Mike Amster.
The band worked with producer Matt Hyde at Megawatt Recording in Los Angeles for the creation of Shifting Mirrors. His Grammy Award winning techniques prove to be a perfect pairing with the avant-garde rock group, giving the 10 songs on their third album a distant, exotic sounding quality that is at the same time very engaging and beguiling.
2. Sword of Hakim
3. The Approach to Al-Mu’tasim
5. Ballad Of Zeta Brown
6. Black Hawk
7. Mola Mamad Djan
9. The Peace Within
10. Danse Nomade
Shifting Mirrors is out May 13 via Tee Pee Records.