The first thing I noticed about this shoegazing stoner-rock instrumental three-piece was the stereo field: the drums were far right, the bass far left, and the guitar in the middle. In this age of almost uniformly limited stereo palette, this actually stood out quite a lot—more so than the music itself (delay-drenched capably psychedelic guitar, low-fi but perfectly decent drumming, competent but unspectacular bass). Then, as the cassette progressed, I noticed the instruments moving around within the stereo image and realised that this was the band ‘being trippy’. Which pretty much sums up this release: it’s perfectly adequate, it’s borderline interesting, and it’s ‘trippy’.
When I listen to this cassette, I’m dragged back to my Uni days, the bands we were all in at the time, and the delusions of grandeur from which we all suffered. The air is thick with bong smoke and big dreams, and limitless potential stretched out before us all like our unending never-getting-old lives. I can almost see the band after the recording session, triumphantly sucking down a round of massive cones, cranking up the stereo, and blissing out on their own psychedelic awesomeness. High fives all around, literally and figuratively.
The thing is, it’s just not that awesome for anyone else to listen to. I have tapes upon tapes and more tapes of this kind of thing, now stashed in boxes, likely never to be heard again—wonderful at the time, but really, in hindsight, not particularly inspiring, original, fascinating, or different. It’s just another stoned jam-band rocking out on a few choice riffs for thirty-five minutes, trying to add interest by playing with the panning—as though that’s what actually makes a band interesting, worthwhile, or good. There is nothing on this tape that you haven’t heard before, or possibly played yourself in your own psychedelic stoner rock band.
Or maybe I’m just projecting because, really, this is a perfectly adequate release. The individual performances are perfectly fine. The recording quality is low, but this doesn’t necessarily detract (it’s definitely better recording quality than that mid-nineties black metal band you love so much). The jams ebb and flow the way they should. The dynamics seem appropriate. The band interaction seems right on the money. Really, perhaps I’m just a grumpy old misanthrope being unnecessarily harsh, putting down a bunch of lovely chaps who are making perfectly serviceable psychedelic rock cassettes.
But this is exactly the issue, I think: it’s all perfectly serviceable. Nothing stands out at all as being unique, mind-bending, intriguing, or something that I haven’t heard before, which—let’s face it—is what psychedelia is really all about. Not until the very end of side two of the cassette does the guitarist start freaking out with his effects pedals and start doing something quite interesting (it lasts about fifteen seconds). Otherwise, nothing on The Container opens my third eye, blows my mind, or creates portals to another realm. Nothing here makes me want to tell my friends, ‘Holy fuck, have you heard this band Land? It’ll blow your fucking mind!’
Of course, maybe that’s not what these three chaps from Minneapolis are trying to do at all. Maybe they are just sucking down a few billies, rocking out, and having an awesome time doing it; maybe they aren’t making music for me and you, but for themselves. After all, that’s what life is all about. I wish them well and hope that their lives are rich and satisfying, and that they continue to enjoy their ‘trippy’ musical endeavours well into the foreseeable future.
But I don’t think I’ll be listening to any more of their cassettes.
Side A: The Container
Side B: The Container