High Wolf - Atlas Nation [1983LP]

France’s High Wolf possesses a natural-born ability to produce tones most conducive to inducing transcendental states. Prolific without wearing out his welcome, the guitarist and effects box manipulator sets loose fervid streams of fever-dream drones. High Wolf’s tracks sound as if they’ve been sluicing since the beginning of time, siphoned for teasingly brief absorption before they shimmer off to the vanishing point. This elite droneur is one of the few musicians who could title a 7-inch A Guide to Healing without it coming off as an ironic gesture or a laughable boast. (Cop one and try not to get a spring in your chakras.) Atlas Nation—recorded in 2010 after a long trip to India and Nepal—deepens High Wolf’s penetration into the mystic. It evokes an uneasy peace with a new breed of tribal psychedelia shorn of all hokey signifiers. “Fuji Descent” starts the album with what could be a languid, paradisiacal soundtrack to a scrapped Alejandro Jodorowsky film. “The Dawn of Man” is a stark, stoned processional burrowing into malarial climes where guitars squawk in ominous tongues while congas cave in chests and clear brush with a vengeance. “Raagini” magnifies and psychedelicizes Rapoon’s mantric, ritualistic hand-drum patter and tropical-forest drones while hinting at Don Cherry’s jazz-raga peregrinations. High Wolf claims that “Haiti” was “recorded in a couple of hours [on] the day of the big earthquake in Haiti, so it’s the darkest / saddest High Wolf track ever.” It’s a fittingly miasmic, climactic threnody. Think of Atlas Nation as a surreal aural travelogue that takes a giant step beyond Jon Hassell’s “Fourth World” music—a humid milieu teeming with alien tonalities and oracular currents. It’s as welcome as a new, improved entheogen on the streets.

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