Föllakzoid: III

From moment to moment, III has trouble distinguishing itself.
Sacred Bones

Their native Santiago might be cooling down this time of year, but on III, the trio’s second release for Sacred Bones, Föllakzoid sounds the way spring feels. Their longform guitar hypnotics come on like the billowing heat that breaks through morning frosts to announce the season’s change, a warmth accented by chill: enveloping but subtly bracing. Bursts of emphatic distortion punctuate long passages of hazy, almost metronomic pulsation. II finessed this approach by spinning space jams out of sticky stoner rock riffs. III continues in the same vein, reducing those riffs to minimal, malleable motifs, likely leveraging for LP-length cohesion. But reduction doesn’t quite serve a mode already marked by repetition. From moment to moment, III has trouble distinguishing itself.

Groove is paramount for Föllakzoid, who have progressively pushed the rhythm section out front since forming seven years ago. Guitarist Domingo Garcia-Huidobro hasn’t been subordinated to bassist Juan Pablo Rodriguez or Diego Lorca, the consistently outstanding percussionist, so much as he’s been given rhythmic duties alongside melodic ones. The palm muting that clouds the back of “Earth” and opens “Electric” transmits the acoustics of outer space while also setting the 4/4 train on course. But more important than any individual member to Föllakzoid’s forward motion is their interaction as a band. The four tracks comprising III are the longest they’ve yet recorded, showing off their intimate, intertwined chemistry – the three have known each other since childhood – and the momentum they manage to maintain over what could easily have been aimless interstellar improv.

Still, even after Föllakzoid’s balmy fog washes over one enough for its flashes of fleeting variation to make themselves felt, it yields all too often to head-nodding sameness. The occasional stratospheric power chord, and one particularly impressive passage at the start of “Earth,” when the various strands of rhythm and noise fall out of sync for an impressively precarious sustain before locking back together, give III some dynamic range. But a band with chops like these should really try to do more with them.

Föllakzoid describes itself as “cosmic music,” an Anglicization of “kosmische musik,” the German band Popol Vuh’s category for their synth-based, trance-like brand of psychedelic rock. Popol Vuh, along with Neu!, Faust, and Tangerine Dream, among others, comprised a generation of art-damaged Teutonic groups the British press would fawn over as “krautrock.” The term has since become shorthand for describing anything with a Motorik beat – the near-mechanical 4/4 beat that is Föllakzoid’s master structure. But krautrock never asked to be called krautrock, and its progenitors were far more adventurous and staunchly avant-garde than the reductive current usage of that term would suggest. Even the more consistently propulsive Neu! took a great deal of risks with their syncopated sound, moving from white noise squalls to soaring major chords to robotic dirges, effecting generic and tonal shifts even as their basic format remained intact. Föllakzoid might do well to try the same.

RATING 6 / 10