Flower Travellin Band
Satori


4.8
classic

Review

by Hernan M. Campbell STAFF
May 15th, 2013 | 53 replies


Release Date: 1971 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Heavy, adventurous, and ominously hypnotic. Satori's acid-induced rock sound is one that will leave the listener mesmerized until the final, mind-blowing note.

Flower Travellin' Band's 1971 masterpiece, Satori, reflects a transitional, yet momentous, period in the history of rock music. The psychedelic movement of the previous decade was slowly dwindling in popularity, yet its influence still held a degree of relevancy that managed to inspire the modern music scene. The fuzztoned guitar sound and bombastic drum rhythms that were initially envisaged by groups like The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Cream, and Blue Cheer, were now being viewed as fundamental elements that gave root to the heavier styles of Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and Led Zeppelin. At the same time though, as proto-metal and hard rock were establishing their dominance in the mainstream, bands like King Crimson and Yes were developing a whole new elaborate brand of rock. The distorted heaviness was indeed a present aspect in their music, but these bands often looked to the abstract nature of psychedelia for inspiration. The adoption of elongated song structures and fantastical atmospheres became even more evident in the rock scene of the time, and actually lent considerable leverage to the rise of progressive rock.

The unique sound of Satori vividly captures the eclecticism of the '70s rock scene, and all of the different philosophies that were steadily evolving into fully recognized genres. Flower Travellin' Band have taken all of the various trends that were prospering at the time, and unionized them into a collective mélange of power and atmosphere. Here we'll find traces of early heavy metal and progressive rock, as well as nostalgic spectacles of florid psychedelia. Since the release of 1970's Kirikyogen (a collaborative effort with Kuni Kawachi), Flower Travellin' Band have also been cultivating a heavily dissonant guitar style that emphasized on a low-tuned sound and slower tempos, thus giving their music a more menacing characteristic. Much like Black Sabbath's Master Of Reality, Jacula's In Cauda Semper Stat Venenum, and the heavy, prog-influenced sound of Lucifer's Friend have been credited with developing the idiosyncrasies of doom metal, Kirikyogen also played a significant part in its creation. In fact, Satori is yet another endeavor in honing the formidable and ominous sound that would become the essence of doom metal. Indeed, Satori is a proto-doom, yet highly versatile, epic divided into five movements, each one more mystical than the last. This album is like a window into a warped and capricious state of mind, as the music flows along under its own agenda, while altering in both mood and style whenever it deems appropriate.

The first movement, "Satori, Pt. I", opens the album with an unforgettable overture. As Joe Yamanaka screams into the microphone to signify the start of the album, the music steadily intensifies behind him so as to build up the suspense. And as we're drawn to the edge of our seat, completely succumbed with anticipation, Flower Travellin' Band commence their monolithic onslaught with proto-metallic riffage. This particular movement emphasizes more on loud volume and low-tuned guitar work above clever artistry. A majority of the piece is centered around a memorable riff and high-tone wail, which follows a melodic arrangement that is suspiciously similar to two of Slayer's forthcoming hits, "Raining Blood" and "South Of Heaven". In the second and fifth movements of Satori, we find Flower Travellin' Band deviating their focus from heavy metal, and embellishing the atmosphere with a touch of mysticism. This is where the psychedelic and progressive rock influences are at their most conspicuous. There's a stronger emphasis on long instrumental passages and spacey melodies here, which allows Flower Travellin' Band to drift into profound, meditative ambiences. This section is very reminiscent to the acid-induced jams in Iron Butterfly's "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" and The Doors' "When The Music's Over", as it is completely reliant on radiating a similar, hypnotic environment. It's actually quite astonishing how Flower Travellin' Band is able to formulate mellow, psychedelic jams that incite the an equally magnetizing awe that their heavier style emanates. It's a kind of versatility that many bands aspired to harness at the time, but very few managed to pull off with a similar degree of expertise.

The third and fourth movements regress back to a heavier demeanor, which borrows influence from blues rock and heavy metal. The third movement signifies a return to the doom-tinged sound of the first movement, only this time, with a relaxed tempo that continues to be influenced by the psychedelic vibes of "Satori, Pt. II". Nevertheless, the obsessively dark aura that consumes this piece, as well as the dynamic prowess that takes over in the midsection, manages to give it a consciously metallic feel. The fourth movement, on the other hand, pursues a bluesy rock sound. This was a rather popular trend at the time, as various rock bands were still showing a sincere interest in the 'blues explosion' of the mid '60s. Joe Yamanaka even has the audacity to bring out a harmonica to compliment Hideki Ishima's riffs and solo work, thus formulating "Satori, Pt. IV" into a 'Zeppelin-like' groove.

I'm personally enthralled by the sound of Satori. The mind-bending jams, the hypnotically vibrant riffs, Satori just showcases a virtually unparalleled mastery of every genre it embraces. As previously mentioned, this album is like a musical collage of strangely mixed elements from proto-metal, progressive rock, and psychedelia, which mirrors the evolution that rock music was undergoing in the early '70s. Listening to this album is like experiencing an LSD-trip gone awry, with the listener trapped in a labyrinthine funhouse that appears more enigmatic over time. Though this hallucinatory theme is only for the sake atmosphere, as Satori has much more to offer than to be 'mood music' for stoners. This album, with its dynamic shifts in mood and eclectic range of styles, takes rock and psychedelic concepts to their absolute limits. Flower Travellin' Band illustrate such a sophisticated, yet primally forceful sound that had it been given more attention in the western hemisphere, it could have had the potential to cast a thick shadow over every other release of its time.



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user ratings (71)
Chart.
4.2
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
May 15th 2013


4424 Comments

Album Rating: 4.8

Potsy introduced me to this a few weeks back, and it's been growing on me since. Hope you guys enjoy them.

Here's a few highlights:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dy7_MNw-EVw Part 1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71lBZz16dr4 Part 2

Also here's a band I've been really into lately, May Blitz, who are somewhat similar:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgveqwfACZo - "Smoking the day away"

As always, if anyone has any advice on the review or constructive criticism, please feel free to leave a comment.

rasputin
May 15th 2013


14544 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

legendary record. good review.

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
May 15th 2013


20659 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This needed a review badly. Will read the review later but I'm sure it's excellent.

Picked up the vinyl reissue of this a while ago.

Digging: Townes Van Zandt - Townes Van Zandt

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
May 15th 2013


6099 Comments


Good review, I'm completely sold so I will look for this.

On another note, your opening paragraph explains a lot with regard to the sudden change in style of many outfits during the shift from '60s to '70s.

Kudos Hernan!

Digging: The Sabbathian - Ritual Rites

Havey
May 15th 2013


9681 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Album rules, too bad potsy won't be around to see this ;_;

chupacabraisreal
May 15th 2013


211 Comments


Awesome. This is one of the best albums ever and needed a review badly.

Digging: Bones - SKINNY

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
May 15th 2013


3398 Comments


I remember this record. I used to listen to it a few years ago and it was really great. Glad you reviewed it, I have to check it out again.

Digging: Amplifier - Mystoria

balazs
May 15th 2013


481 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

album rules!

alachlahol
May 15th 2013


7489 Comments


buncha hammer ons n pull offs is all this album is

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
May 15th 2013


20659 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

lol

RunOfTheMill
May 15th 2013


1460 Comments


I tried listening to this once, and idk just sounded really weird. WIll have to check again.

Excellent review, tho

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
May 15th 2013


20659 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The review was a great read as expected.

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
May 15th 2013


4424 Comments

Album Rating: 4.8

Thanks for the feedback guys, it's a very fun album.

@havey
Yeah, but I like to think he's still looking down upon us from Valhalla.

MeatSalad
May 15th 2013


14537 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Why did he get banned again

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
May 15th 2013


20659 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Nah, he quit the site for good.

tommygun
May 16th 2013


24932 Comments


really nice review again hernan, you've been kicking arse lately mate

this sounds very cool gotta check

Digging: Broods - Evergreen

MeatSalad
May 16th 2013


14537 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

wow this rocks

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
May 16th 2013


20659 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Agreed.

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
May 16th 2013


4424 Comments

Album Rating: 4.8

Thanks, Tommy.

Yeah, I've been loving this album, man. The first two tracks especially are unbelievably good.

tommygun
May 16th 2013


24932 Comments


downloading now hurry up hurry up hurry up



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