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MUSIC REVIEW: DATURA4 – West Coast Highway Cosmic

| 27 January 2021 | Reply

MUSIC REVIEW: DATURA4 – West Coast Highway Cosmic
Alive Natural Sound
April 2020
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar

Datura4 are a band who immediately set a bar so high that there wasn’t a lot of wriggle room for them to “get better and better.” When you’re born fully formed and at the top of your game the only struggle is to not slip down a rung.

Now, four-albums-in-five-years later, there’s still no sign of that happening with this band of West Australian legends, helmed by Dom Mariani of The Stems, The Majestic Kelp & DM3 fame, and rounded out by drummer Warren Hall, bassist Stu Loasby and Bob Patient’s Hammond organ and other keys.

Originally touted as a hard rockin’ boogie outfit in the ‘70s Oz rock vein a la The Coloured Balls, The Aztecs and so on, they have evolved seamlessly to their current status as genre-juggling psych boogie zen masters. The thing with stoner jam bands, is that they would often meander off on their own trip, forgetting that people aren’t experiencing the same high as them, sometimes forsaking the song entirely. Not so Datura4. Whilst the jam, the stoner rock ethos, and much more factor into the sound and feel of the band, these chaps know that the song is the king. The jamming is done at home, not in the studio, so that the end result here is as taut and well-honed as a chef’s knife edge.

The title track – referring to the stretch of highway down the West Coast of Australia which this outfit have travelled many times – is a trippy trip indeed, this band being effortless wizards at locking into a groove which lesser mortals would render repetitious, instead keeping it engaging, almost hypnotic.

Howie Smallman lends a wailing blues harmonica to the furry and fantastic Wolfman Woogie and several other tracks, giving them an early Stones-by-way-of-Howlin’-Wolf-like feel.

Mariani’s guitar is always tasteful, whether it be power pop with The Stems, surf instrumentals with The Majestic Kelp, or fuzztastic boogie with this outfit. Paired with newest member Patient’s exemplary organ riffs, they conjure up hints of Deep Purple’s gloriest days, Booker T & the MGs by way of the Count Five, even The Stooges without the nihilistic drug problems and a calm, laid back attitude to the world.

You’re The Only One is a more acoustic blues, the restrained harmonica and finger picked guitar rendering it almost an interlude before Rule My World (a bonus track on the CD version) takes us back to Billy Thorpe & The Sunbury Aztecs days with a retro rocker that features scorching solos from both Mariani and Smallman.

You Be The Fool perfectly captures the hard boogie side of the band, while Get Out sees Patient hammering a boogie-woogie piano above the band hitting an infectious old rock n’ roll groove that juxtaposes its buoyant intensity with the insistent lyrical imperative. Evil People Pt 1 is darker, a soundtrack to a Hammer Horror film if one were ever made on the edge of the Australian desert with the right sort of collective acid flashbacks, lightning striking all around, and shadowy figures amassing just out of the light.

Mariani calls this album “slightly more eclectic” than Datura4’s preceding three, and we can probably put that down to Patient’s involvement from the start of the record’s conception. As a band they have no peers in the psych boogie groove department, drawing in influences as diverse as hard rock and stoner grooves, but always integrating them seamlessly in their own sound. A sound which can only be described as Datura4.

Category: CD Reviews

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