January 26, 2021

The Gama Sennin: The Gama Sennin

Californian rockers The Gama Sennin call themselves a "21st century psychedelic rock collective". It is a side project for seasoned veterans who have been having the back of established acts for longer and been members of a longer list of cult bands than they care to remember. Fronted by Kevin McGuire they barrel through two ten songs on their self-titled debut album, freed from the constraints of playing other people's music. Most of the material falls into the progressive rock niche, with some forays into slower genres like stoner and desert rock, besided cherrypicking from the world of jazz and avant-garde. The overall sound is unmistakenly West Coast - plenty of time for stretching the notes and such.

Following the classic theatrical three-act structure (Setup, the Confrontation, and the Resolution) the songs on their album tell the tale of a man descending into darkness and madness, confronting his issues and coming up on top at the end. They cite Brian de Palma's cult movie Phantom of the Paradise and Friedrich Nietzsche's acclaimed book Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future as major influences. And while those two works might seem miles apart at first sight, they both explore the idea of an evil force that is out to get control. It could be the devil offering a short cut that goes South or it could be depression, for those who are caught in the fray it can be very bad news indeed. While the back story will be way over the head of most people, it will add to the enjoyment of the listening experience for those who will take the time and effort to study the lyrics more closely.

Singer McGuire can handle rock posturing pretty well, but he truly shines when he goes into pleading spoken word mode, like he does in the final track, Fifty Second Mark. With the swinging blues chops of power house drummer Adam Maples, the precision of percussionist Art Pacheco and the New Wave leanings of bass player John Avila as the driving force, the rest of the band is supplied with an undulating canvas to add their own their own layers of sound. No problem when Dimitri Coats goes a little nuts on his guitar or when Chris Caswell finds a spot for a few surprise notes. These guys have each other's back all of the time, even when they go slightly mental in the instrumental Pen Palls (think Syd Barett-era Pink Floyd with Jon Lord taking over from Rick Wright). The Gama Sennin is firing on cylinders throughout, reviving the principles of a Seventies supergroup augmented by a deep knowledge of the possibilities of both old school production values and modern technology in the studio. No one has to teach them, since they wrote the book themselves. Top shelf dynamics and separation that won't get muddy and warbled when it is played loud. Fingers crossed that this is not a one-off album that leaves the listener wanting more.

The Gama Sennin:
Kevin McGuire: vocals
John Avila: bass (Oingo Boingo/Mariachi el Bronx)
Adam Maples: drums (Earthlings?/Sea Hags)
Dimitri Coats: guitar (OFF!/Burning Brides/Ten Commandos)
Chris Caswell: keyboards (Daft Punk/The Muppets)
Art Pacheco: percussion (Jamaica)
and special guest multi-instrumentalist David Catching (Rancho de la Luna/QOTSA)

The Gama Sennin is released via Digital Scenery Inc. as 2LP 45prm set in a gatefold sleeve. 500 handnumbered copies on clear blue 180-gram vinyl were manufactured by Third Man Pressing. Buy it from their website.

Tracks:
  1. I Kill You
  2. Lines Alone
  3. Without
  4. Its The Altitude
  5. Trigger Finger
  6. La Ventana & The Photographer
  7. Got It Made
  8. Premonition
  9. Pen Pals
  10. Fifty Second Mark

The songs were debuted with a theatrical performance that was shot @ Smoke and Mirrors and streamed on September 4, 2020 as part of virtual version of the Burning Man festival. Watch a clip of the opening track I Kill You.

» thegamasennin.com

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