It’s some four years since the release of Bison’s acclaimed debut single, “Way To LA”, the result of a series of productive studio sessions between Paul ‘Mudd’ Murphy, longtime collaborator Ben Smith, krautrock legend Holgar Czukay and vocalist Ursula Major. Since then, Murphy and Smith have made a number of return trips to Can’s Innerspace Studio in Cologne, where Czukay famously conjures his out-there musical magic.
The result is 'Travellers', the quartet’s long-promised debut album. It is, by anyone’s standards, a deliciously dubby and intergalactic concoction; a fearlessly atmospheric blend of krautrock and dub disco-inspired grooves, delay-laden horns, quirky percussion, stargazing electronics and eyes-wide-shut vocals. The dub influence is particularly notable given Bison’s love of “versioning” tracks. Three of the tracks - “Way To LA", “New Moon Boy”, and “Familiar Stranger” (the latter two mixed by Conrad Idjut, who also turns the album’s title track into a clandestine, French-horn-laden late night masterpiece) - appear in “Day” and “Night” versions. Meanwhile, previous single “Mandy” - a murky spaced-out stroll though the collective Bison hivemind - is also included in two forms, with the Balearic stoner rock of the “Power Boy Mix” offering a sun-kissed (but still deliciously atmospheric) reinterpretation.
Highlights are naturally plentiful, with Ursula Major’s half-spoken, half-whispered vocals wrapping themselves around spacious rhythms, shuffling drums, twinkling, effects-laden guitars and low-slung basslines. 'Travellers' is an album rich on other-worldly intent, sparse grooves and thick, enveloping production. It’s exactly the sort of album you’d expect from musicians and producers of this calibre. We may have been waiting a while, but Bison have definitely delivered.
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