The Rick Ray Band – Dark Matter Halo
CD: 10 Songs, 58 Minutes
Styles: Acid Rock, Psychedelic Rock, All Original Songs
Whether you consider him to be a blues icon, rock god, or some otherworldly entity in between, Jimi Hendrix is a musical GOAT – Greatest of All Time, not the sacrificial animal. Remember this, as you peruse Dark Matter Halo, the newest offering from the Rick Ray Band. Branding themselves as a “psychedelic progressive hard rock fusion band” (check their website), they tellingly omit the word “blues.” Nevertheless, acid rock and hard rock fans will crave the out-of-body, out-of-mind experience that Rick Ray and his posse offer. If Hendrix taught us anything, it’s that chaos is to be embraced, not feared. Such is the ethos of this CD. On ten original tracks, instruments bend, weave, warp and twist their way around each other in kaleidoscopic patterns. The lyrics, though audible, are not easily understood. No matter. Lose yourself in the journey.
The Rick Ray Band has opened for a veritable Greek chorus of hard, psychedelic and alternative rock bands, the most famous of whom (at least to boomer blues fans) are Lynyrd Skynyrd, Blue Oyster Cult, Kansas, and Pat Travers. Performing alongside Rick Ray (guitars, vocals and keyboards) are Kip Volans on drums and percussion, Dave “Shaggy” Snodgrass on bass and vocals, and Rick “Sarge” Schultz on sax and bass clarinet. Russell Vidrick wrote all lyrics.
Highlights include “Society of Strangers,” “Do You Know Who You Are,” “Autumn Wind” and “On the Take.” However, the most poetic is “Electroshock.” Running over seven minutes long, its intro is a storm of static electricity, where notes crackle like volts on one’s ears. Even on a low volume setting, it’s tailor-made for zoning out and enjoying one’s favorite adult beverages and/or legal botanical substances. The master of being “Experienced” would be proud.
Make no mistake: There’s not one tittle of traditional blues to be found here. No lump-de-lump, no Piedmont, no Texas or Tulsa sound, no West Coast swing. It’s a niche album, a mood-setter. Nevertheless, if you aim to resurrect the Age of Aquarius, then Dark Matter Halo is perfect!