The Swan: CD//DD
Reviewed By: Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker
My friends from Pretoria, South Africa garage rock band Ruff Majik are back with the third installment of their planned EP trilogy. The 6-song ‘The Swan‘ is the end piece that follows previous offerings, The Bear and The Fox. If you have followed the progression of these releases then you already know what Johni Holliday (gtrst./vox/organist), Jimmy Glass (bass) and Benni Manchino (drums, percussion), aka Ruff Majik, are all about. Raw, blues-infused, psyche-tinted, fuzzened Stoner Rock with the emphasis on raw, stoner and rock, true believers. It seems as if the earlier releases were mere glimpses into the overall intention of these EPs and with ‘The Swan‘, it feels as if everything has now come full circle.
Allow me to inform you that Ruff Majik are as real as it gets on recordings, they don’t utilize any studio trickery like overdubs and countless takes. There’s no attention-stealing bells and whistles meant to distract you away from mediocre music like so many other bands incorporate into their releases. No sirree, not here for this trio does not need smoke and mirrors to discombobulate your senses. Instead, they deliver their sonic wares with boisterous musicality and it all begins with the retro rager, ‘Horse Drawn Wrath Spawn‘. Thick floppy riffs, amazing bass-driven rhythms and a slurry swagger exude from the speakers transmitting the tune. The guys immediately change musical gears with the doomy desert/fuzz rock of ‘Cloak Full Of Serpents‘. Bottom heavy psychedelia swirls around you while the kit-shattering drums drive things to and fro. It sets things up rather nicely for the next cut, ‘Canabasis‘, and its more energetically defined direction. A flurry of music possessing raw, unfiltered fierceness exudes into the room around you and the blistering guitar work will hold you in place as it does.
The end of of the previous track actually leads us headlong into the atmospherically-enhanced, melodic psyche of ‘Honey In A Lion Corpse‘. Rippling with desert rock traits and some really hypnotic tones, this throwback to the age of Kyuss is my favorite track by far. The grooves are magnetic and I swear you can feel sweat beads breaking on your brow from the energy being exerted here. Before you can catch your breath the dense, deep ruts of ‘Monarch Of The Hills‘ break like dawn on the mountaintop. Once again, the power of the rhythm section keep this song anchored in place, especially those massive bass lines. Things ratchet up into the red with the EP ending ‘Scalp Chiseler‘, a full-on foray into doomened blues. Bolstering things with ample enhancements are the subtle organs bubbling beneath the surface of the song, one which hits some dizzying moments at times before cooling down at others.
I have walked the walk with Ruff Majik through each of this trilogy’s EP releases and dare say that ‘The Swan‘ is the icing on the cake so to speak. It ties everything together in a way that should appeal to fans of undiluted garage rock that isn’t afraid to keep it true and to the point. You can listen to ‘The Swan‘ in the Bandcamp embed below and I highly recommend that you do, as well as check out its’ predecessors so that you can get the full intention of the trilogy.