Voodoo Pharmacology is a band from the United States, formed by six multi-instrumentalists in the year '08. In the year 2009 they released 3 full-lenght albums as downloads with a "pay us what you want to, if you want to"-policy. The band isn't shy with their expression, as their music blends elements from jazz, ambient, rock, electronic, metal and ambient through using a noticeably wide variety of instruments. Combine this info with the album's lenght, and you just know that this won't be an easy bite.
Just to give you an overall view of the release and it's diversity, here's something sort about all the songs. 01: some damp and soft drumming with a simple, soft and almost ethereal melody on top, with some additional electronic ambience. 02 is doom rock, slow'n'simple with catchy male vocal lines. The free-jazz-part (2 saxophones) in the middle brings variation, but it unsurprisingly sounds unfittingly improvised. There's some background ambience to give the track more depth. 03 consists of soft, catchy and repetitive cymbal-based drumming and repetitive ambience with sparse keys and whispers deepening the mood. It's a very appealing, repetition-based atmospheric track. 04: an almost humorous-sounding acoustic plucking melody topped with low and dramatic spoken male vocals and some electronic ambience. It sounds interesting and awakens the listener due to standing out with it's kind-of cheerful mood. 05 starts with a distant horrified screaming-sample and some explosions, and ends to some nature-sounds. 06: atmospheric ambient/rock with electronic vocals. It has a nice flow and drama. 07: an atmospheric and acoustic country song with some concert strings. 08: a slightly edited sample of someone preaching, backed with some percussions. 09: doom rock with some plucking acoustics and dramatic vocals. 10 a sad and dramatic equivalent to song 07. 11: a short and simple mitro, builds up the mood for the next track. 12 is the last song. It builds up slowly into a mix of acoustics and atmospheric effects. The repeating shouts in it are too loud and start to annoy the listener quickly, failing to achieve the effect they could've delivered if they were used more sparsely. They also make the track feel lenghty.
Overall it's really noticeable that the band didn't seem to know what mood they were going for; should a song be atmospheric, doomy, heavy or what-not, causing them to be hard to grasp. The album progresses slowly from one mood to another, so the listener has to really concentrate on it to keep up with what's going on. These facts, along with the album's lenght, makes the record a really hard one to concentrate on, making it become background music too easily despite it's variation and hooks. Some of the songs could've easily been made better if they were a bit shorter and had more sparse amount of ideas/instruments/etc used in them, and if they would've been used to a greater effect. Now the album is too ambient-esque when thinking about it's elements and possibilities.
Although the electronics found in approximately all the tracks bring depth and variety to the songs, they also slightly unnecessarily soften the edges of the songs, and make some songs sound empty when there's no electronics present - even though it's far from true. The listener just gets too used to their presence. Some songs are also made too lenghty due to the electronics, for example the four-minute song "Shinar" and it's pretty useless middle-part.
I was let down, it can't be denied. The album consists of many great elements and ideas, and it's top-notch execution- and sound-wise. As a whole it's disorderly and mixed, and it seems to lack the general idea that should carry throught the album and tie all the songs together, aside of the apocalyptical lyrical themes. I can believe that putting together the ideas of six musicians with such wide fields of talent can be difficult, and it's exactly why this record is weaker than it's parts. If the band manages to put their act together, there's no knowing what they'd be capable of, but now... I'll be waiting for their future output. In my eyes the band has something unique already, despite the need for refinement, so do check them out.