The current incarnation of psych-rockers Siddhartha was gathered by frontman Marlon Hauser while homeless and the album was recorded while living in a windowless apartment. This sort of biographical is usually trivial when analyzing an album, but in the case of IF IT DIE, the perspective of an outsider combined with the hallucinations-or-are-they-revelations of sensory deprivation is at the core of the work itself. On its self-titled opening track, IF IT DIE begins with discordant drones and distortion, sitar music, and trance-inducing chants of “Siddhartha” and “Think. Fast. And Wait.”, with moans of ecstasy buried underneath. The result is more unnerving than soothing and sets quite the mood for Siddhartha’s first officially released album.
Siddhartha has coined the term “dashiki shoegaze” to label their music, and the unusual term is an apt one as any. Tracks such as “Don’t Look Back Or You’ll Turn To Salt” and “Blood Laughter Kisses” recall that reverbed guitar-driven sound of peak-era Smashing Pumpkins, but with a mystical flavor. On “Diamond Dust”, a sea of guitar pedal distortion is driven along by fast-paced bass groove, and it’s all bound together by opening and closing harmonized chants.
The African twist on shoegaze is a welcome one to the genre, but Siddhartha takes the art of reinvention even further. Seven minute closer Sometimes You Get So Alone (It Just Makes Sense) juxtaposes the psychedelia with Love-style California garage while adapting a bluesy tone, and “Her Useful Dream” is meditation music gone doo-wop. According to Hauser, the album is both “the story of Siddhartha and what the entity goes through on this earth” and a personal one. IF IT DIE takes the listener on an otherworldly journey that’s both reflective and heartfelt and musically unpredictable.
Essential Tracks: Sometimes You Get So Alone (It Just Makes Sense), “Don’t Look Back Or You’ll Turn To Salt”