Given the sheer number of failed supergroups over the years, it’s clear that collaborative projects don’t always add up to even the sum of their parts, let alone more. But there have been more than a few exceptions in the underground, with forward-thinking artists combining their talents to concoct music that offers the best of both. Legendary festival Roadburn was the birthplace of this ten-member psychedelic project from Finland’s Dark Buddha Rising and Oranssi Pazazu, and it’s every bit the sum of its parts and then some. Syntheosis was performed on the Dutch event’s Main Stage last year, but it has now been given a full studio recording, one that captures the brain-melting psych-fuelled voyage in all its glory.
Sharing only a homeland and a fondness for the sort of psychedelia that makes your head spin, Dark Buddha Rising and Oranssi Pazazu execute a masterful balance of the former’s doomier tones and the latter’s blackened extremity, their talents combining to offer a listen that’s as stifling as it is grandiose. The biting psychedelia of Pazazu is perhaps more blatantly front and centre, but the dark and exploratory soundscapes within which their co-conspirators operate are just as important to the thrillingly unpredictable voyage this album’s hour-long listen offers, injecting a ritualistic tone that only adds to the vast and imposing atmosphere.
Though Syntheosis is capable of aching minimalism like that heard in the first two minutes of opener ‘Void Monolith’, its captivating nature spawns primarily from the sheer depth of the music. By allowing their two disparate styles to coalesce instead of fight manically for the foreground, Waste Of Space Orchestra’s sound is given an immense weight that’s doomy and uber-heavy but also thrillingly unpredictable, brimming with experimental flourishes and hypnotic intricacies.
Jukka Ramanen and Jarko Salo’s joint percussion works in unison to bolster the gigantic roars of the guitars and the hefty booms of the bass, at any time either operating within a free-form, krautrock-tinged framework (see ‘Journey To The Centre Of Mass’) or creating an oppressive wall of impenetrable rhythmic backbone. Holding an LP this impenetrably dense and thrillingly complex together as they do is commendable. Indeed, Syntheosis is a fantastically convoluted listen, capable of segwaying from the ambient atmospherics and demonic ceremonial chanting of ‘Infinite Gate Opening’ into the visceral riffs and mind-altering psychedelics of ‘Vacuum Head’, or from the sci-fi soundtrack ambiences and warbles of ‘The Universal Eye’ into to the stunning multi-faceted sludge odyssey that is the thirteen-minute title-track which closes the album.
Syntheosis is an apt name for an album whose key trait is synthesis. For too long we’ve been led to think that multiple talented minds collaborating on a side project is futile, but Waste Of Space Orchestra is not a clash of egos or a vanity project, instead it takes the best elements from two of extreme metal’s left-field thinkers and merges them to craft something even more impressive as a result.
Syntheosis is out now on Svart Records. Purchase here.
Words: George Parr