Erik Conn: Drums
Jamey Simms: Bass, Guitar
Jason Morales: Guitar, Bass
Ezra Reynolds: Fender Rodes on "Sand, Stone and Pearl".
Engineered and mixed by Jason Morales.
Mastered by Chris Goosman at Baseline Audio, Ann Arbor, MI.
Illustration & Art Direction by Alexander Von Wieding - www.zeichentier.com.
COSMIC PRIESTESS was completely improvised and recorded live with an Otari MX-70 1" Tape Machine at the Home Studio in Austin Tx.
Unlike most 2010s instro-metal, there's nothing "post" rock about this improvising Austin trio. They could be back on a 1969 mud-festival stage, blasting heavy Groundhogs or Santana fusion-psych boogie into the Apollo 11 zone while keeping it caked in soil, sweat and pipe residue. Cosmic Priestess kicks off with a Sabbath riff, then gets proggier and bluesier from there. Four jams stretch across 60 minutes (Sun Ra's favorite planet gets 33 minutes). Solos stay non-boring; drive and groove maintain; the final cut funks out with wah-wahs and Krautrock zap guns. Then you exhale.
- Chuck Eddy
Buckle up! The gods of improvised psychedelic stoner jam rock released a new album and it is like a neverending psychedelic LSD trip! COSMIC PRIESTESS is Tia Carrera's fourth release overall and second for Small Stone Recordings and it was completely improvised and recorded live with an Otari MX-70 1" Tape Machine at the Home Studio in Austin Tx.
Tia Carrera get better with every release and COSMIC PRIESTESS is their best so far. The album is spangled with an awesome cover, which corresponds with their sprawling music - a holistic artwork - a mind-expanding satori - a bright light in a dark world!
Tia Carrera released their new masterpiece at Small Stone Recordings and with every new release this fine music label rises in my favor. COSMIC PRIESTESS offers 70s-inspired, fuzzy, psychedelic stoner rock, which centrifuges you into outer space. Beam me up, Scotty!
- Captain Beyond Zen
No matter how many years will pass by, it seems there will never be enough of good quality '70s-oriented Hard Rock music. Although the '80s era was much more colorful and thrilling because of its off-the-charts energy, the magic of the '70s is an undeniable and undying gem. There is something celestial in the way Hard Rock / Rock was played back then, as it was an era when the genre was still being shaped. When you have the chance to get your hands on the new release by Tia Carrera, you will truly understand why vintage Rock is so important for the soul and for the continuance of the genre.
Cosmic Priestess should be your next overdose and a ticket to the worlds that shaped the music of late '70s ... stars such as Jimmy Hendrix with his Experience band, early Carlos Santana, and other bands of the same mold that sought to be a little bit more outside of the borders than of the rest of that era's major Rock figures. Unlike Hendrix or Santana, Tia Carrera is all about the music and not lyrics. The main reason rests on the fact that the band has no vocalist and also because they mainly call themselves a Jam '70s Band. Their self-recognition requires no argument. As for the vocals, after listening to their challenging creations, it was pretty logical why those were bypassed.
This new album consists of four tracks and two of them are beyond a half hour in duration. What was interesting in those tracks is that all of them rocked, but each track symbolized a different character that made a spectacle of what these guys can do.
"Slave Cylinder" is a '70s American Hard Rock assault filled with amazing solos that would have made Hendrix proud. "Sand, Stone And Pearl" is also a good rocker, yet it's not your ordinary Rock tune, and it's very constructive. "Saturn Missile Battery" can be described as an all-around Hard Rock track. It maintains the qualities of the prior tracks and stretches them into a full-scale, long-listening experience. At first it attacks with some nasty licks and crooked riffs, then turns down a bit to rest only to finish with a blaze. A lengthy track, but still impressive. "A Wolf In Wolf's Clothing" was different and feels like a Rock experiment ... but its vibe is crazy and hazy.
Erik Conn, Jason Morales and the band's new permanent member, Jamey Simms, made quite a showing with a unique '70s jam session that reminds of many aspects of Rock music that have been sidelined a bit over the years. Cosmic Priestess is a must for '70s Rock fans, and even current day Metalheads can come and check this one out to appreciate the vibe of Metal's forefathers.
- LIOR “STEINMETAL” STEIN
Having followed these Austin, Texas psyche rock trippers for some time now brought me to a situation to make myself really happy to review their brand new brainchild called Cosmic Priestess. After absolutely mind-blowing The Quentessential released in 2009 on Small Stone Records, I expected the band to go in one of two directions. The first is to become fuzzier and fuzzier, and the second was a rockier direction. The main, improvisational note that followed their sound since The November Session album with Cosmic Priestess gets bit more tamed, and it’s notable through the album’s spine that the new psych-o-jam is much more a product of studio work.
Tia Carrera’s greatest strength is without a doubt their ability to capture the moment and transfer the immediacy of the recording process. That was case with all previous releases and that keeps on rolling through Cosmic Priestess as well. The album is made of four massive slabs, two of which are clocking under ten minutes, with the center-piece called Saturn Missile Battery a big son of a bitch that runs for over 33 minutes.
Cosmic Priestess opens with Slave Cylinder in a classic soiled variant of garage rock with, what has become a sort of trademark of these Austinites, extensive psychedelic jams. It’s questionable here what’s more twisted. Is it the Hendrixesque guitar soloing of Jamey Simms or the intense, sometimes over-the-top drumming of Eric Conn? The songs in general are without any significant reversals, the album comes as a long and uniform psychojam. Thus, even when the band goes wild and insane or lands the ground with a little bit tamed song structures, there is an omnipresent feeling of easily floating dirtiness. Or smoothness, depending from which perspective it’s observed.
There comes a surprise in the shape of Sand, Stone and Pearl which kicks off by employing electric piano, leading into some jazz noodling juxtaposed with psychedelic guitar soloing. While repetitive guitar lines keep this song within, its flow runs high and far away behind any shape of tameness, obtaining that way what could be depicted as psychedelic jazz. Who knows, it might be a case.
The massiveness of Saturn Missile Battery presents two options for Cosmic Priestess. The first, more obvious and more reasonable option is to consider this piece as a consistent part of the album, which it is. But, clocking over freaking 33 minutes it gives away a feeling of the independence comparing to other tracks. It’s still Tia Carrera and it’s Tia Carrera at its best. By listening to this slab, I came to the conclusion that this band clinches much better when it comes to lengthy overdriven intensity than putting themselves in chains of time limit. And Saturn Missile Battery shows everything but any limits, that’s why this track is a centerpiece of the record. It’s always expected that the longest track off an album has most to offer, just because of its duration. But speaking of TC, time factor doesn’t even come to your mind. You feel as a particle in a system of “chaos” at moments, sometimes you feel you lost your way, but no matter of that all you like these sound waving. And that’s what counts.
Though Saturn Missile Battery is a massive opus, it’s not everything of this record. You might think it will get you tired, but the closing track, A Wolf in Wolf’s Clothing, keeps on delivering outstanding work from the trio. Shining moments of Jamey Simms didn’t finish on the previous track. Followed by hard hitting of Erik Conn and greasy bass-ing of James Morales, Cosmic Priestess closes and passes the exam with a high grade.
Mark my words, Tia Carrera is an amazing band.
- Nikola Savić
Tia Carrera on Small Stone Records and from Austin, Texas have surprised the hell out of me with this album titled "Cosmic Priestess" as I wasn't expecting such a psychedelic riff fest of this quality from a band I had never heard of (something I am not proud of, I must say). The band made their debut in 2009 with "The Quintessential" which is an album I am currently waiting to receive and expect a review of that album also in the near future. There is many retro-rock albums being released these days and most of them are very good, some are excellent like the recent Orchid disc, another one to add to the list is this 4 track mind-melting jam fest from Tia Carrera. This is pure jam-rock that sounds so live, that is almost sounds improvised and that adds to the magical amount of warmth of the recording. The band is just a trio, Erik Conn on drums, Jamey Simms on bass and guitar and Jason Morales who delivers more guitar and bass parts. It is totally instrumental and it so it should be, the music doesn't required vocals as that would most likely only take away some of the vibe of these tunes.
Starting with a Sabbathian riff that kicks off opening track, "Slave Cylinder" the band quickly raises goose-bumps with its spontaneous vibe. This tune is filled with psychedelic grooves that are immediate and infectious but what is appealing from the get go is the way the band works together as a unit. Feeding off each other at every turn, you can imagine the band members huddled together in the studio enjoying each others playing as much as what they are doing on their own. "Slave Cylinder" had me sold on the band on the first spin but the album only gets better from here on. Second track, "Sand, Stone and Pearl" is a more colorful track than the album opener with the use of electric piano and more variation in the playing. It is also even more of a psychedelic trip with added elements of jazzy drumming and mesmerizing guitar work from Morales. Like the opening tune, "Sand, Stone and Pearl" builds its power up at every twist and turn and it is pure 70's psyche-rock all the way but it keeps a nice balance between stoner-rock riff work-outs and 70's prog-rock musicality. Thankfully they never get pompous or repetitive and the music seems to switch just at the right time which is the albums strong-suit. "Cosmic Priestess" only has 4 songs that stretch the album past the hour mark but it is so exciting to listen to, that time flies by every time you put this magic silver disc in the player, especially while driving as this is a perfect cruising 'down the highway' kind of a record.
The main reason the album is as long as it is comes from the inclusion of the 33 minute, "Saturn Missile Battery" which I think might be the inspiration behind The Soda Shop calling this album, "a mind altering skull fuck." This track alone could have been the whole album as this is such an all encompassing piece of kick-ass rock. It begins with a lot of insane soloing and pulverizing drumming and doesn't let up till about 12 minutes later before you get to the first break in the madness. The loose live vibe means there is times when the band seems to be on the brink of going off the rails but they somehow manage to keep it together and during the 33 minutes of this tune, you do get the feeling they are perhaps pushing themselves a little beyond their musical capabilities but that is some of the magic of it. The sense that this is like a band playing right in front of you in your living room, laying down killer riffs, solos, infectious hooks but doing most of it off the seats of their pants. Of course they would have rehearse all this but a large chunk also sounds like it was played 'at the moment' and not planned at all, I might be totally wrong on that but I love that organic, natural approach to performing. "Saturn Missle Battery" is the albums center point and the albums highlight and they could have recorded this one track alone and I would have been more than satisfied.
The last tune and the weakest of the four tracks is "A Wolf in Wolf's Clothing" and this inclusion to the album seems a bit out-of-place at this late stage of the CD. Morales still delivers a stellar performance on guitar but after the 33 minutes of the previous track, this last song seems a bit overshadowed and lets say, un-needed. Some folks might find the loose structure of "Cosmic Priestess" a bit much to take but fans with a passion for the free-flowing jam band thing will surely dig the album. This band is certainly made for live performances and in that respect, Tia Carrera have captured the essence of the band very well with this recording. There are moments that will have you head-banging madly, other moments will have the air-guitar shredding like it hasn't done for a long time while other passages are very hypnotic. The psychedelic elements are very trippy indeed also and while thinking about this review and trying to think of a band that sounds like them, I came up empty. They have their own chemistry and their own way of doing things and while it is not 100% original, it still sounds very fresh to my ears. Small Stone Records have another winner with Tia Carrera's Cosmic Priestess.....
Power trio Tia Carrera has been serving giant fistfuls of improvised psychedelic heavy rock for long enough now to become grizzled veterans of the Austin music scene. On Cosmic Priestess, their fifth disk, the wear and tear is starting to show. Unsurprisingly, guitarist Jason Morales wrangles some searing tones out of his axe while drummer Erik Conn and new bassist Jamey Simms keep the rhythmic faith. But while the band’s collective heart is in the right place and its energy never flags, a certain predictability has begun to creep into the riffs and melodies. Maybe it’s because the trio is following up its masterpiece, the perfectly titled The Quintessential, but Cosmic Priestess suffers from a faint sheen of “been there done that.” That’s not to say that any of these tracks aren’t worth your time – the band’s cosmic boogie is in full flight as usual on “Sand, Stone and Pearl,” the groovy “A Wolf in Wolf’s Clothing” and the colossal “Saturn Missile Battery.” But the words “as usual” shouldn’t enter into the conversation when you’re talking about cranking up the amps without a plan. Time to shift gears?
- Michael Toland
Yeah, I'll admit I was hesitant entering into this album. Four tracks of stoner, psych instrumental rocking doesn't immediately reach out and grab my old punk rock heart but you know what? I trust Small Stone by now not to offer us up a turd on a plate so with that in mind...let's play.
Things quick off in fine style with "Slave Cylinder" which is built around a muscular riff and a huge groove laid down by drummer Erik Conn. Possibly the most structured track from the album and the shortest at a shade over 7 minutes this track flexes the band's more metal muscles before delving into a freaked out acid rock jam. At this early stage it becomes clear that we are dealing with some serious quality musos with chops to die for. Conn, in particular, shines as a drummer of some considerable skill and feel anchoring the band with equal measures of weight, groove and dexterity.
"Sand, Stone and Pearl" represents something of a musical about face and displays the other side of the Tia Carrera coin. A 14 minute shimmering instrumental that centres around a delicate guitar figure that brings to mind Pink Floyd's classic "Shine On You Crazy Diamond". In line with the aquatic theme of the title this track ebbs and flows like a tide, building and dropping the tension before levelling out into a loose jam. Propped up on some delicate Fender Rhodes from guest musician Ezra Reynolds this is a real feet in the water on a summer day kind of track with some deft yet tasteful Hendrix inspired lead work from Jason Morales.
Now things get a little contentious. "Saturn Missile Battery" is the track on which this album could stand or fall. Starting on a high note, all boogie rhythms and blazing psychedelic guitar pyrotechnics the energy is palpable and throughout the track the energy remains high and the playing exceptional but the problem is the length. At over 33 minutes there is the sensation that things have become a little self indulgent and a little more self editing may have been in order during the recording process. Most bands attempting a track of this length will spice things up with shifts in sonics and structure but not Tia Carrera. Although there are some subtle shifts in mood as the band build and drop the vibe there is little in the way of structure and almost no shift in tempo until things slow down at around the 25 minute mark by which time many listeners may be lost. Drop the needle on this track at any point within the first 25 minutes and it will be hard to distinguish one part from another. I will admit that many times during listening to this album my finger started to twitch towards the skip button but my journalistic sense of fair play has always stopped me. For the ADHD ridden youth of today this may well be a step too far and most listeners may need a healthy dose of Ritalin to stay the distance. I don't want to sound overtly harsh here as at any point during this track, should you care to drop in you will be treated to some exceptional music and incredible playing but overall this is as much a test of the listener's endurance as it is the musicians' stamina.
Things are far more restrained on final track "A Wolf In Wolf's Clothing" which steps into funkier territory with Morales busting out some tasty Strat licks riding atop a shifting yet constantly grooving rhythm section. Obviously Hendrix is going to be an obvious reference point but this always stays on the right side of blatant hero worship and owes as much to other greats such as Jeff beck and Carlos Santana with the occasional nod to Jimmy Page.
This is definitely an album designed to suit a mood. If you're after a quick energy fix may we direct you to other aisles in the Small Stone store, but if you have a big bag of weed, an industrial strength bong, a couple of lava lamps and some black light posters with an hour or so to kill this is perfect. An excellent exercise in instrumental skill and telepathic jamming dexterity that is up there with contemporaries like Earthless but one that would have benefited from a little self restraint in parts.
- Ollie Stygall
Tia Carrera -- the band, not the former Wayne's World actress -- have built an entire career out of thumbing their noses at the digital music revolution. While compact discs were giving way to MP3s, then ringtones, then cloud storage, the only "cloud" that probably crossed their sightlines emanated directly from a bong. Heck, the members of Tia Carrera probably didn't even realize that vinyl died a death before making its recent, modest comeback; they must think it never went away. And Pro-Tools. What the hell is Pro-Tools? OK, you probably get the picture. So with that background properly established, it's probably no surprise that Tia Carrera once again recorded their latest album, 2011's Cosmic Priestess, entirely live at their own studio in Austin, Texas, using an analog tape machine, and largely improvising these four, ruminating stoner rock jams as they went along. But, truth be told, if the proper chemical stimulation is withdrawn, there's nothing at all spectacular about songs that hardly deviate from well-worn stoner rock molds ("Slave Cylinder") or bring the funk with well-intended but aimless results ("A Wolf in Wolf's Clothing"). And when it comes to the zombie-making, 33-minute marathon of "Saturn Missile Battery" (surely inspired in part by Spinal Tap's "Jazz Odyssey"), fans may just need an I.V. to deliver the high dosage necessary to get them in the mood. This leaves only one absolutely must-hear tune: the alternately soothing and thundering "Sand, Stone and Pearl," which will doubtless turn a few heads with its kaleidoscopic gravitational pull, fueled largely by the Fender Rhodes played by one Ezra Reynolds. But the fact that a guest was needed to really spice things up in the Tia Carrera camp this time around sort of suggests that the band is, if not exactly in a rut, definitely wearing down a deep groove of their own making. It still beats Pro-Tools, though, whatever that is. Long live analog!
- Eduardo Rivadavia
What a trip: TIA CARRERA set off on a new spectacular journey of sonic adventures, finding out more about heavy blues-infected jams and ass-kickin riffage. But this time they have managed to reach a new level of power, heaviness and perfect balance that I wasn't expecting. And this despite the fact that I'm a huge fan of their previous album 'The Quintessential'. But with 'Cosmic Priestess', it seems as if TIA CARRERA have reinvented themselves. Incidentally, it offers a clearer view of each members talent. Every time you think the guitar can't go any further over the top, it climbs another hundred feet up and cannonballs off the edge again. Jamey Simms and Jason Morales switch guitar and bass seamlessly, sometimes mid-jam that results in a tight, blistering instrumental concoction of both deliberate destination and improvisation.
And then there is Erik Conn whose powerful and creative drumming style leads the band toward a harder sound. He brings an edgy approach to the band's rhythms and structure, which is especially noticeable during 'Saturn Missile Battery'. Erik Conn drives the whole thing forward like a twin turbo in a '72 Dodge Charger. This track is the centerpiece of 'Cosmic Priestess', and despite it's enormous thirty-three minutes length, it rocks like hell. It is truly fascinating to hear the development of this song that grows like a living organism. Before this superb track, however, there is 'Sand, Stone and Pearl' that is significantly calmer but as good as everything else on this album. A Fender Rhodes adds a very special spice to this epic jam while the band invokes the spirit of Frank Zappa. In particular, it reminds me of his great album 'Zoot Allures' and 'Sand, Stone and Pearl' would fit perfectly between 'Black Napkins' and 'The Torture Never Stops'.
As a side-effect it's a perfect introduction to 'Saturn Missile Battery', but take care - this "introduction" is fifteen minutes long, because we are in the world of TIA CARRERA. These two epic jams are framed by the opener 'Slave Cylinder' as well as 'A Wolf In Wolf's Clothing' whereas especially the last tune made an impression on me. It's a flawless combination of hard-driving heavy blues and ass-shaking funk. I am quite sure that Jimi Hendrix or Buddy Miles would have been proud of TIA CARRERA. In sum, 'Cosmic Priestess' is a breathtaking and soulful album. Here, there are no sections of unstructured noodling and it's an exciting listening experience: warm, detailed, alive and always enthralling. Also worth mentioning is the killer production, which makes one feel as if the band is playing in your living room. Virtually no other band embodies the term power trio better than TIA CARRERA. For me personally, 'Cosmic Priestess' is one of the first highlights in 2011. So if you really love creative heavy music and freedom of musical expression buy this album. You will not regret it because it's truly a masterpiece.
Ok, here’s the scenario…you have an opportunity to hear a trio who are equally as impressive as the Jimi Hendrix Experience in terms of their fluid jams and their knack for improvisation. You interested? Yeah…that’s what I thought you’d say…fuck yeah you’re interested. Tia Carrera are those three guys and on their latest Small Stone Recordings release, Cosmic Priestess, they have literally let the music guide them…and brother, it is one epic trip.
This trio doesn’t have Jimi, but it does have Jamey Simms and Jason Morales who seamlessly trade off on guitar and bass, and Erik Conn who lays down the beats that drive their musical whims. And while it would be easy to sit here and tell you that the intricate guitar soloing, complex drum flourishes and the band’s fusion of 70’s classic rock with stoner rock groove are the stars of this show, it wouldn’t actually be the truth. The fact is the show stealer here is the bass guitar, regardless of whether it’s Simms or Morales who’s strumming, plucking or straight up slapping the shit out of the thing.
You see, when I said “improvisation” earlier, I wasn’t kidding. Cosmic Priestess was recorded on a tape machine with the band playing live at Tia Carrera’s home studio in Austin, Texas and it is essentially three guys jamming the fuck out until they’ve gotten it all out of their systems. And while Simms and Morales noodle away impressively when they’re playing the guitar (and I mean impressively), it’s the bass lines that drive these four songs. That’s because Conn is busy doing his own thing behind the drum kit as well. Don’t get me wrong, he keeps a steady beat whenever its necessary, but if there’s an open space to be found, he crams it with his own fills, grooves and rides that are an absolute blast to experience. So that leaves only the bass guitar to keep the rhythm alive while the other two musicians sensationally imbibe in pure stoner rock embellishment.
So what about the songs? Well for starters, Tia Carrera hit all the stoner rock staples with their song titles, from muscle car engines (“Slave Cylinder”) to desert themes (“Sand, Stone and Pearl”) to the cosmos (“Saturn Missile Battery”). And it’s this last one where you’ll end up spending the majority of your time with Cosmic Priestess as it clocks in just shy of 34 minutes in length…talk about epic jams. The track is a perfect example of the band’s willingness to let the guitar and drums meander off in their own direction without ever straying too far from the consistent groove created by the bass. The song just sort of fades in with the band already in full stride and it takes you on a ride through sheer guitar wankery (and I mean that as a sincere compliment) and über-technical drum work that is interwoven with that steady bass rumble…a genre classic.
And while the other three tracks together don’t quite match the length of “Saturn Missile Battery”, they’re all just as impressive. “Slave Cylinder” transitions from a steady groove into a massive wall of fuzzed out riffs through a series of guitar solos and then back again. “Sand, Stone and Pearl” features a little organ creeping courtesy of guest musician Ezra Reynolds, which makes this song (the album’s most chill by far) sound kind of like the surviving members of The Doors got back together to jam out in tribute to the lizard king. And “A Wolf in Wolf’s Clothing” (best song title ever) sees Tia Carrera shifting into a more southern rock mode with its bluesy, Allman-esque swagger.
This is a musician’s album. Cosmic Priestess is an example of a band showcasing their love for the music they play and showing off a little bit while they’re at it. The way they allow the music to take them in whatever direction feels best at the time is the aural equivalent of taking your hands off your bicycle’s handlebars when you were a kid…spontaneous, maybe a little crazy and a whole lot of fun. Don’t miss this one.
“Slave Cylinder” opens with a nod to Sabbath’s “N.I.B.,” and from there, Cosmic Priestess — the second album from Tia Carrera on Small Stone Records — only gets trippier. The Austin, Texas, trio made their label debut in 2009 with The Quintessential, and while that album felt especially geared toward transposing their live sound to plastic, Cosmic Priestess seems more of a studio effort. Of course, the band relies heavily on improvisation throughout the four extended instrumental jams that make up the new collection, but it’s a different entity, a different spirit driving them throughout. Doubtless it was recorded live, the three of them in a single room, but the clean sound is thick with bass and rich classic rock drumming, and relies less on feedback to fill empty space than did The Quintessential. It’s less just about the noise and more about the interaction among players.
At least I think it is. Entirely possible I have my head up my ass and Cosmic Priestess is nothing more than three dudes ripping out good vibes for upwards of 30 minutes at a clip. Whatever the case, Tia Carrera not only manage to capture the excitement and immediacy of the best of heavy and/or stoner rock, but they do so now based on concrete ideas of what they want each piece of music to accomplish. “Slave Cylinder” wraps with the three-piece — Erik Conn (drums), Andrew Duplantis (bass) and Jason Morales (guitar) – coming together to drive home a central riff, before “Sand, Stone and Pearl” opens wide into electric piano and sustained notes from Morales. The heady psychedelia is a change from the opener, and shows Tia Carrera have more to their sound than simple jam-band pseudo-jazz crescendos or pointless noodling. Duplantis’ bass marches in time with Conn’s drumming even as it offers counterpoints to it, and as the 15-minute track plays out, it’s all the more evidence of the band’s growing chemistry and self-awareness. They’re not without their lost moments – which you expect in a live/jam setting and so aren’t out of place here – but the overall flow of Cosmic Priestess is encompassing. “Sand, Stone and Pearl” is twice as long as the opener, and in turn, “Saturn Missile Battery” is more than twice as long as it (Tia Carrera then pulls back to the eight-minute range to finish). In a way, it feels like the album is growing around you while you listen.
Massive and expansive, “Saturn Missile Battery” probably could have been released on its own and no one would have blinked or thought it out of place for Tia Carrera, who seem to be headed in the single-track-full-length direction one way or the other. Both “Slave Cylinder” and “Sand, Stone and Pearl” had a slight build structure to them, but “Saturn Missile Battery” opens strong with soloing from Morales and heavy hits from Conn. It’s not until after 10 minutes in that there’s anything that could resemble a break in the action, and even then Duplantis seems to step further into the mix to ground the Morales’ leads. It would be hard for Cosmic Priestess to work at all without “Saturn Missile Battery” as its highlight, since if you can get down with the idea of a heavy jam band doing their thing for extended periods of time, it almost goes without saying that the longer the better, barring any glaring screw-ups, which probably wouldn’t have made it on the album anyway. Indeed Tia Carrera’s latest plays out in this fashion, the guitar giving way following some slowed-down crashes in the end to let Duplantis take the reins for one of the stoniest moments on the record. Again, the inevitable highlight.
Initially, I didn’t understand the impulse to include “A Wolf in Wolf’s Clothing” as the finale to Cosmic Priestess – which is certainly long enough already without it — thinking there was no way it couldn’t be a comedown after “Saturn Missile Battery,” but Morales gives his best performance on guitar, and the tightness of play between him, Conn and Duplantis is enough to answer any questions that might arise. It does sound like it wasn’t completely improvised, but six minutes in, as Conn hesitates to change to the hi-hat to better complement Morales, it becomes apparent that at least part of the arrangement is off-the-cuff. That kind of spontaneity is rampant throughout Cosmic Priestess, and if their goal was to further establish themselves as a band not only able to capture their live sound, but to expand on it in the studio, then these four songs prove Tia Carrera was totally successful in that regard. The unstructured nature of the jams is never going to appeal universally, but as a show of rampant creative spirit, Cosmic Priestess soars even as it hypnotizes. You can sit and analyze every move Tia Carrera make, or you can zone out and be carried by the music, and either way be satisfied.
- H.P. Taskmaster
The fourth album, Cosmic Priestess, from Tia Carrera is a mind altering skull fuck. The album has four tracks of instrumental improve that span over 64 minutes, with one of those tracks, “Saturn Missile Battery” consuming 33 minutes alone.
Any band of musicians can improve and jam for an hour and record it…but Tia Carrera does it in a manner that is collective and sharp. These are songs. The cohesiveness between the three members is beautifully evident on track 2, “Sand, Stone, and Pearl”. A comfortable trip in the 70’s time machine. To describe each song individually would be like commenting on every note that fills this hour long stoner rock fest. It is better to explain it as an album requires you to stop. To actually listen. To not just grab a clever chorus or a catchy three note chord. To experience the flow and organic nature of what this band achieves.
Tia Carrera’s Cosmic Priestess should be made love to in the back of the 1972 Dodge Van. Take the time to light candles and incense. Share some grass together. Stop looking for a quickie…this one is mystical and different than the rest. Foreplay, baby. Take it nice easy…you dig? If you follow my advice and the sounds of Tia Carrera, you might just become a better lover.
If Tia Carrera’s 2009 album, The Quintessential, was a bit of a hazy, sleepy, psychedelic deviation from their norm, then their newest one, Cosmic Priestess, is a return to form. That form, of course, is a rather loose and improvised gush of hot, bubbling cosmic lava, and that old rock n’ roll cliche of melting faces seems to be the guiding principle on which this celestial babe governs her kingdom. Firing up fuzzy freak jams and roughshod riffs from the outset, the album itself, like the music, is a real trip, with opener “Slave Cylinder” delivering earthly, 70s-inspired, knuckle-dusted fury before coasting into the clouds with “Sand, Stone and Pearl.” Where it really takes off, though, is when the meteoric, near 34-minute “Saturn Missile Battery” kicks in and you find yourself on a galactic tour de force that’ll make you think you’re at the Roadburn festival on, well, Saturn. Closer “A Wolf in Wolf’s Clothing” grounds you there for good, its moon rock groove forcing Saturn’s rings into a wobbly spin like warped vinyl. Have a nice life on planet high, buddy, because you’re never coming home.
- Jeff Warren