Imagine the following: Jaco Pastorius has risen from the dead, visited a recording studio on the moon and teamed up with a group of intergalactic alien travelers to record an album. Congratulations, you’ve just discovered Lumerians. I don’t think anyone will be too upset by this comparison, since Lumerians’ own videos sometimes introduce the band members as alien visitors from another planet.
Transmalinnia, the space-rock group’s debut album, thumps with bass line rhythms that ground the tunes while propelling them forward, leaving the grungy guitars, droning vocals and theremin-inspired keyboards free to meander in the higher registers. The end result is a fascinating, and often strange, lunar soundscape.
The album may not appeal to the average indie-rock music consumer at first. Its overall feel is plodding and contemplative—sort of like a marching elephant. It is definitely going somewhere, but it’s impossible to tell where when everything is moving so slowly. Still it’s weirdly catchy, and though it’s impossible to sing along to, you might find yourself enjoying the familiarity of the tunes after playing the album a few times. You just have to shut up and enjoy the journey first.
And what a journey it is. Transmalinnia opens with “Burning Mirrors,” which starts with a bass hook and moves into otherworldly noises that would easily fit into a 1970s science fiction movie. This foreshadows the rest of the album, which is a bit psychedelic though never overwhelmingly weird. Then, in “Xulux,” things inexplicably take a detour into the land of modern atonal jazz. Layered over the same steady bass playing, we are treated to a strange, Latin-inspired beat, complete with guiro. Three minutes later, the bassist starts pouring out melodic lines reminiscent of Pastorius. But it’s “Calalini Rises” that’s easily the most complex—and maybe inaccessible—song on the album. It starts off with an ominous tambourine before slowly building to a frenzied, doomed cacophony of noises that sounds like an Amazonian war cry.
This is not an easy-listening album. But if you’re in a contemplative, weird mood, you like unusual percussion choices, you like a challenge and you also happen to be from the planet Mars, tune in to Lumerians. But if you start seeing crop circles everywhere, don’t blame me.