Exploration by CB3Release date: August 26, 2022
Label: Majestic Mountain Records
Talk about timing. In the same summer that the James Webb telescope reveals the staggering, detailed beauty of deep space, CB3 release Exploration, a noisy and joyous album celebrating the adventure of travelling through the cosmos. Coincidence? Probably. But still, it is pretty darn serendipitous.
And like the telescope’s images, this music is colourful, textured and with deep, deep caverns of heaviness (or weightiness, more accurately) to get lost in. As well as the profound, hefty riffs, there is a healthy amount of hypnotic, motorik repetition. And so much major-chord melody to float on.
CB3, from Malmö in Sweden, have been around for a little while, but this is their first album to feature vocals, from the guitarist Charlotta Andersson. And boy do they lift it beyond the norm. The lyrics themselves aren’t particularly profound (based around exploration: trips beyond the horizon, wishing to remain in a state of daydreaming and travelling through space and time), but they add a dreamy quality to the sound and complement the solo flights of fancy that Andersson (The C in the band, which stands for Charlotta’s Burning Trio) embarks on with her guitar.
And here’s the thing: Andersson can play. She is a bona fide jazz guitarist – she even has a degree in jazz – who has sung with synth-pop outfits and performed experimental, avant-garde guitar pieces in which she makes her instrument chime like Glenn Branca’s. So, it is lucky for us she has turned her hand to gorgeous, uplifting space rock.
It opens with ‘Daydreamer’ which from the opening bars could be mistaken for an early Smashing Pumpkins track. But then things get deep, as Andersson’s first solo is unleashed. It ain’t show-off shredding for the sake of it, it all fits with the music – with tension-building arpeggios leading to releases of long-note, lyrical sections. If you ain’t air-guitaring by the end of the song, there’s something wrong with you. And from there we are treated to sitar-like sounds and atmospheric wails, before everything builds and builds and builds… back to the original riff. It is a heady 11 minutes of music.
The album heads next into space with, err, ‘To Space And Away’, which starts suitably heavy before the drummer, Natanael Solmonsson, goes kosmische on us – and before we know it our minds are on their way to the Carina Nebula.
Our next point on the voyage is ‘Going to the Horizon’, which is the shortest song on the album, but still manages to pack a lot in. And it is worth mentioning that although the guitar is the star of the show, the rhythm section is solid as a rock, with Pelle Lindsjö’s bass tone aided by a fuzziness that musicians at the dawn of rock ‘n’ roll used to achieve by tearing a hole in their amplifier speaker cone (this is meant as a compliment, by the way, it is a warm but muscular tone).
‘In a Rainbow with Friends’ is the only instrumental track on the album and it is also the darkest, with its sweeps of electronics and echoed guitar notes accompanied by little more than a few taps on the cymbals. It evokes images of the storm clouds behind the rainbow, rather than the colourful arc itself.
We’re back to euphoric Smashing Pumpkins-style slabs of fuzz at the beginning of the final track. ‘Through Space and Time’, which should serve as an advertisement for intergalactic and temporal travel. If time-travel is like this, it will be great fun.
Ah, but there is a twist. Just as we think the trip is coming to an end, as Andersson sings “Always journey on…” a doomy riff rains asteroids on our heads. The guitar fires laser beams, the asteroids keep coming, there is a squeal of noise and then… silence. And we are plonked back in reality. Ready for another trip.