When listening to Big Scenic Nowhere’s first full-length album, one can find a lot of different influences surging beneath its desert rock umbrella. The first half is particularly eclectic as the stoner-isms of “The Glim” and “Then I Was Gone” are broken up by the hardcore outburst of “The Paranoid.” I must admit that the rather disjointed nature of these tracks poses concerns for how the rest of Vision Beyond Horizon will play out, but the hard rock stomps of “Mirror Image” and “Shadows from the Altar” prove to be reassuring.
But even as the album’s second half commits to trippy, laid back soundscapes, this mood is still presented through a variety of different facets. “The War Years” might be the most effective track of the lot, channeling Pink Floyd’s softer segments thanks to its gentle acoustics, mellotron, and vocal layers being contrasted by vaguely threatening synth patches. I also appreciate the glistening touches on “Hidden Wall,” as well as the lonely “En Las Sombras” and the more subtle crunch on “Tragic Motion Lines.”
And with performers from Fu Manchu and Yawning Man among several other groups on board, the musicianship is unsurprisingly great. The guitar and bass play the biggest roles in shaping the tracks through fuzzy riffs and psychedelic textures, but the vocalists prove to be the album’s strongest asset. The Ozzy-esque swagger of Mos Generator’s Tony Reed is always a welcome presence, and it’s really cool to hear Lisa Alley and Ian Graham of The Well contribute their signature dual format in a less familiar context.
Overall, Big Scenic Nowhere navigates through a slew of alluring desert jams on Vision Beyond Horizon. Despite a somewhat rocky start, the album’s eclectic nature stays cohesive thanks to the vibrant atmosphere and extensive pedigrees involved. It’s a very loose, easygoing listen but one with a covert sense of direction that gives it more purpose than similarly jam-oriented fare. The journey might’ve been easier to feel out if “The Paranoid” hadn’t been included, but stoner rock fans are sure to enjoy it all the same.
“Shadows from the Altar”
“Tragic Motion Lines”
“The War Years”