Earthless/Harsh Toke
Acid Crusher/Mount Split EP

Tee Pee Records always puts on a helluva duchess and the proverbial mind spread.  Hell, I still listen to Titan’s A Raining Sun of Light and Love for You and You and You on an almost weekly basis.  Why Relapse never seemed to give Titan’s stellar follow-up Sweet Dreams any big sort of push is beyond me, but that’s a story for another time.  I’m here to wax with the poetry of a distinguished idiot about this latest split between San Diego’s long running, head-melters Earthless (yeah I use dashes when I want…sue me, this is rock n’ roll journalism not the latest JK Rowling novel) and fellow San Diego trippers Harsh Toke.  This split is a superb compliment to a night of shrooms, mescaline, acid, ambien or whatever delusional substance I decide to put in my body at the time.  Hell, weed works too!

Earthless won themselves over a fan here a long time ago with their debut long-player Sonic Prayer.  Anybody that knows me is aware of the fact that I’m a nut for the extended jams of Hendrix, German purveyors of acid psyche rock (Ash Ra Tempel, Birth Control, Guru Guru, etc.), The Doors, early Deep Purple, more recently Mammatus, Husky (aka Watch Husky Burn), Smoking Spore, Titan and just about anything else that can bring that winding, guitar-scorched, organ-stabbed touch to living, breathing life.  The band’s lengthy contribution here “Acid Crusher” hits pretty much every mark I could hope for.  I’m not going to call out every movement and change here, because this is a slinky psyche sleazer with Isaiah Mitchell’s winding, fuzzed-out, wah-blown guitar riffs backed by Mario Rubalcaba’s crisp, acid jazz drum surgery and Mike Eginton’s deep swells of bass…just literally kicking your ass in slow-motion stasis.  Whipping tides of 60s psyche noise ripple up to the surface from time to time but mostly the boys keep their extended jam side tight, focused and succinct from start to finish.  The rainforest shakin’ hand-drumming and swishes of organ/electronics or just well-implemented guitar pedal signals really takes this jam up a notch.  And even though the song lacks a noticeable climactic moment until the end when Mitchell’s shred frenzies into some of Jimi’s teaching…this tune doesn’t need any overly explosive bombast.  It exists as a piece to trip you out on drugs or stone cold sober.  I’m damn inclined to say it’s the best track they’ve ever done but these guys have a resume that’s hard to match, so take my opinion as you may.  As a side note, don’t forget that Isaiah Mitchell moonlights in the EXCELLENT Golden Void (aptly named after the classic Hawkwind tune from Warrior at the Edge of Time), so check them out too if you haven’t yet.  …Good stuff from the first note to the last that I’ll be playing long beyond the review.

Harsh Toke I don’t know a damn thing about.  They bring the nearly 20 minute “Mount Swan” to the table.  They drone-off into the same hell that sucked in the Event Horizon until unleashing a head-nodding, stoned as fuck doom riff that goes into the similar wild-ass prog arpeggios, agitated notations and formless psyche jamming that Titan let loose on their swansong.  After grooving to that Earthless track for several intensive listens, the transition between bands didn’t make sense at first but then it came together like a cinderblock to the stomach.  The vocals aren’t so much sung as they are buried, howled and shouted from an abyss a million miles below the Earth’s core.  A lumbering, sasquatch-slaying bass line entangles the track in a state of suspended animation where time stops and squelches of pedal FX color in the gray areas amongst rattlesnake like percussion shakes.  I must be fucked because I’m sober right now and I’m enjoying the hell out of this…I can only imagine what a little extra alteration would do.  But I don’t endorse drugs to the kids, just myself.  So don’t damn me.  This segment really builds like an Egyptian pyramid as the guitar-work begins sharing equal ground with that glorious bass tone and the floor-dropping tom/snare thuds.  Om constructs their tunes in a similar lengthy way, but I’m going to say that these guys take things into a more deserted, dirty detour.  The jam here goes on a LONG time and will test the less patient psyche-heads out there but guitarist Justin “Figgy” Figueroa constantly comes up with little twiddles and twinges of tone, texture and sound to keep things interesting while the rhythm section that provides the lightning bolts of Zeus behind him never lets up for a moment.  To keep the groove from stagnating the tempo is slightly heightened with each passing measure as the guitar-work becomes more frantic n’ shred worthy by the second…the song eventually goes batshit belfry mad again before it closes but it’s exactly the switch the song needed to feel complete.  All I know is that I hung on for the duration and I’ll be listening to this in the future.  Hey Harsh Toke, you psychos won yourself another fan.

Freaked-out, psilocybin-addled psyche nuts should go wild over this split.  I know I did.  If you’re a sucker for the hypnosis groove, extended jam and wave after splattering wave of unrepentant psychedelia, then both Earthless and Harsh Toke got what you need on this split.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jay S
September 8th, 2016


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