Lee Van Cleef – “Holy Smoke”
The psychedelic rock of the 60’s has never much appealed to me. I’m sure the generational gap has a lot to do with that, as well as not having personally experienced that special moment in time when all this music was freshly emerging from LSD sodden brains.
It was indeed a powerful musical movement for its time. Youth around the globe felt united by flower power, psychedelic culture, and music, before it came to a bloody, beer soaked demise at Altamont in 1969. Nowadays, even though we have bands that perform “psychedelic rock”, the events that have transpired the world over since Altamont has given the psychedelic music of today a harder edge than their aging predecessors. This edge is exactly why I enjoy the modern psychedelic bands as opposed to the originators.
Italy’s Lee Van Cleef, with their most recent 5 song LP “Holy Smoke”, is a monstrously heavy, very well produced album of psychedelic bad-assery. While being an entirely instrumental album, the guitar work of Marco Adamo more than makes up for any lack of lyrical content. The rhythm section of Pietro Trinita La Tegola on bass and Guido Minervini on drums carry this massive slab of psychedelic goodness with absolute veracity as well as precision.
Musically, the totality of the album’s 5 tracks are very well executed songs with a healthy amount of ebb and flow. When a band is purely instrumental, as Lee Van Cleef are, it’s almost like listening to a soundtrack for a film. Being a huge fan of soundtrack work, this appealed to me immediately. Releases like this allow the listener to either paint their own mental picture… or to add some music to some porn. Whichever you like.
As I mentioned earlier, the soaring guitar work of Marco Adamo certainly makes up for the lack of vocals, but it also has its downsides. Make no mistake, this man’s guitar skills are amazing. But, the nearly excessive levels of guitar soloing throughout this release, make this album into more of a showcase for the guitarist rather than the whole band. When Lee Van Cleef jam as a unit, their sound and execution is amazing. There just honestly, isn’t enough of that on here.
While I can truly say that I enjoy this album very much, I do hope that Lee Van Cleef as a band consider expanding their sound a bit, possibly with keyboards. I feel that the addition of some other elements to their sound would give them more time to jam as a band instead of numerous, lengthy guitar solos throughout a song. This only serves to backseat the rhythm section.
All in all, Holy Smoke is a damn fine offering from this Italian trio. I have enjoyed repeated listens of this release and I very much look forward to seeing where Lee Van Cleef goes from here. The flow of each track keeps you interested throughout while at the same time creating an almost dreamy atmosphere. Lee Van Cleef are certainly one of those bands that can tell a story by music alone. There aren’t many artists or albums which accomplish this, but Holy Smoke does it admirably.
Holy Smoke is a damn fine offering from this Italian trio. I have enjoyed repeated listens of this release and I very much look forward to seeing where Lee Van Cleef goes from here.Grim
Hailing from Franklin, Ohio, Grim has been writing reviews for Fuzz FM since April 12, 2017