I just fucking love psychedelic stoner rock. It is so much fun listening to albums that are heavy, trippy and have a fair bit of improvisation in there to make things a bit more interesting. And that is exactly the deal with Craang from Greece. The very moment I glanced at the artwork of that record, I was pretty much sure that I was going to enjoy it, with the flora in the background, a face coming out of the leaves, three hands (what the fuck?) and a triangle, for good measure. Really cool artwork!
What really hits you at first is the vibe that Craang puts out there. The drums and bass are making the songs so fluid and the progression feel so natural. From the huge bass lines about five minutes into “Slo Forward Jam,” to the more intense groove, about four minutes into “Magnolia,” the band knows how to build a solid foundation for their songs, keeping them always interesting and heavy. And talking about heavy, these guys can sure as hell throw down some serious riffs. I am talking about ground shaking moments, about six minutes in the opening song, and at other times knocking your teeth out, as they do in the start of “Butterfly,” and really surpassing themselves in “Magnolia.”
Still the most impressive aspect of Craang is their psychedelic nature. Straight in from “Slo Forward Jam,” the band throws in some guitar leads with wah effects bringing in the trippy element of their sounds, reaching moments of acidic intensity about three minutes into the song. It is pretty much the same deal from there on, with the guitar effect in “Butterfly” slowly causing your brain to melt away, while the addition of some keys builds up the track and keeps pushing it forward. Similar concept with “Magnolia,” its melodies admitting a more intoxicating vibe to the song, while feedback gives a more ethereal ambiance to the track. But the full extent of their abilities is shown in the closing track of the album. In the fifteen minute long “The Meteorian,” Craang make great implementation of their hazy, fumey quality. With the cool delay effects giving rise to an insane amount of noise in the background, the band just sounds huge. Near the end of the song, Craang go completely mental, starting to throw delay effects in all directions, causing them to swirl over your head, making things stranger and more intense.
In all that, the guitar sound really takes charge. It some cases, a more fuzzy character is applied to it, as is the case in the start of “The Meteorian,” slowly crushing your brain. But there are instances where they use a clean sound instead, resulting to some completely trippy moments from the band, for instance in the opening song. No matter what the case, though, these guys can really come in with interesting guitar melodies and huge riffs. And when they decide to throw it all out and start jamming, that is where they truly shine in my opinion. Both ending parts of “Magnolia” and “The Meteorian” are just jam sessions, with the band members loosening up and improvising.
There is even the surprise inclusion of some vocals in the album, which I really did not see coming. When “Slo Forward Jam” was through I assumed that this band was instrumental, but soon enough in “Butterfly” vocal lines start to come in and really nail it. And Craang show that they can operate in both modes equally well. I still cannot really decide if I prefer them with vocals or without! Especially in “The Meteorian,” the sparse vocal parts really add to the music.
Even though Craang is not really breaking new ground, To The Estimated Size of the Universe is a really well played psychedelic stoner rock record. Huge riffs, great melodies, trippy effects… what more can you ask for really?