Although III might be the third album from San Francisco trio The Alps, it marks their first studio-based record and a fresh direction for the psychedelic supergroup. Made up of Tarentel mainman Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, ex-Tussle member Alexis Georgopoulos (better known as ARP), and ex-Troll member Scott Hewicker, there is a deft amount of skill on display as the three rip through eight tracks of sizzling spiritual bliss. Comparisons here are easy to bring up -- Popol Vuh, Ennio Morricone and Serge Gainsbourg spring to mind for starters, as the band toss and tangle through thick drum breaks and reverberating, sun-drenched guitar lines. III feels like a lost soundtrack to some crumbling Italian surrealist classic with its pounding bass lines and swirling synthesizers. This is visual music, inspired by the likes of Werner Herzog, Alejandro Jordorowsky and Michaelangelo Antonioni, but what results is far more than a pastiche. Rather, the trio have concocted a record which, while being aware of its sprawling influences, is far more than the sum of its parts. The finest excesses of progressive rock and the leanest intricacies of the psychedelic folk scene have been splashed together with a distinct, dusty funk overlook to produce something which is totally out of time. Free from some half-baked scene or other, this is the result of three musicians doing exactly what they want. III has taken a plethora of sounds and crumbled them into something altogether beguiling. From the distant supernaturalism of "Trem Fantasma" to the Terry Riley-influenced bliss of "Pink Light," The Alps show us that there's more to psychedelia than meets the eye.
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