Bogdo Ula, the Finland based instrumental avant-garde jazz-rock trio has recently self-released Crash Canis Majoris, their sixth album in as many years. The super-prolific and wildly talented band took their name and some inspiration from a majestic mountain near the city of Ulaabaatar in Mongolia and consists of guitarist Samuli Kristian, drummer Ivan Horder and bassist Jean Ruin. Utilizing a DIY approach once again, the album was self-produced, mixed, mastered, and played and recorded live in the studio by the band, which goes a long way to prove that they write and perform so tightly it is almost symbiotic, sounding like one person or like an octopus playing each instrument at once.
“Your Sign Cygnus” opens the album with a wild tangle of jazzy guitar runs, loosely constructed drum patterns and rumbling bass fills that sets the tone and provides the perfect introduction to their unique sound for new listeners. The title track, “Crash Canis Majoris” stands out with some frenetic drumming and sun-scorched rock-inspired guitar soloing that together sounds like the soundtrack to a high speed chase scene and lasts for almost three minutes before ending without even once settling into a noticeable groove. This is not music for the nervous, nor is it considered “easy listening” meant for peaceful relaxation. No, this is rock and even punk inspired jazz-rock fusion meant to transport the listener and inspire imagination. The aptly-titled “Portraits Around The Bend” follows with bending elastic guitar lines and a slight touch of funk in the bass riffing while the drums and cymbals splatter across the spectrum. Another standout track, “I Never Was Away” opens with some pinging and reverberating guitar and bass harmonics that float along in the ether with cascading drums that gives the song a creepy, lost in space atmosphere. “Woman-Human” is a fast-paced explosive blast with wiggling guitars, a gurgling bass line and some cagey drumming from Ivan Horder. “VY CMa (part 1)” is made up of long spaced out guitar notes and discordant scraping and tuning noises that sounds like the band is just warming up before the start of a show but without actually starting the show and yet it still makes for one of the more interesting and ambient tracks on the album. As a change of pace, “Adhara” is a slight departure from the band’s sound, featuring a consistent head-nodding drum beat with a repeated and hummable melody from the oscillating guitar and a strutting bass line. It is a welcomed change that showcases their broad range and versatility, so much so that you almost even expect a high-pitched prog rock singer to chime in at any moment. Elsewhere, “Talk, Talk, Talk” features a stuttering rhythm and scaling guitars that lean towards the blues rock end of the spectrum and “Vortex In Your Eyes” roars to life from the beginning with a sound like a robotic beached whale crying for help to no avail for yet another standout moment. Separated by two tracks, “VY CMa (part 2)” focuses on Jean Ruin’s bass guitar this time around with thick ominous tones and notes while the guitar nimbly fills the spaces in between. “Where Ever I Lay My Head” closes out the album with energetic tumbling drums and rumbling bass, while Samuli Kristian envelops the whole song in his melodious and fancy fretwork, leaving you exhausted yet wanting more.
Bogdo Ula again has created yet another transportive and captivating album with Crash Canis Majoris which was named after one of the largest known stars, VY Canis Majoris (VY CMa). In turn, the stellar album has a cosmic and psychedelic theme throughout with their vividly expressive and mostly improvisational sound reaching the stars and beyond.
Rating: 3.5 Stars (out of 5)
Review by Justin Kreitzer