King Blood - Hocus Focus LP (Petty Bunco, 2019)
Hard to believe it’s been 6 years since we’ve last heard from King Blood, but the withdrawal makes sense in a way. King Blood’s oeuvre to date has been fractions of a degree removed from Les Rallizes Dénudés, a band name-checked by plenty of current and recently reissued artists, and the recent re-emergence of the PSF label’s back catalog by Black Editions means we’re once again rich in heavy psych fuzz generally regarded as legendary. Seems like King Blood was aware of this anyway, given how the new LP Hocus Focus employs subtle new tricks to keep things fresh. The bread ‘n butter is still stomping repetitive fuzz-drenched riffs into the ground and lighting them on fire with wailing guitar theatrics. What’s new is the occasional synth or organ, giving tracks like “Coming of the Rats” a much sturdier backbone; some vocal accents (”Second Ending #3″); and an attention to pacing, such that the ten tracks don’t turn into one flaccid grey mass of static. The attention to detail comes with some newfound restraint, and it shines when the cautious tip-toeing muted guitar line in “Hell Is a City” suddenly has to sprint away from the gas explosion of album highlight “Only In L.A.”
Elsewhere, the uncharacteristically gorgeous “Is Today Tomorrow” quietly builds into a small fury, more Oren Ambarchi than Fushitsusha, the muffled sound of a man playing alone as heard from the street below. The following track, “One For Sleep,” is classic slow-burn Dénudés, a plodding bassline carrying the ever-increasing weight of the looping guitar lines, a track that easily could’ve taken up the entirety of the B-side with no complaints. There’s plenty of feedback and chunky riffing in the red here, with a larger emphasis on ‘60s/’70s hard rock (”(Going to) Meet the Man” and closer “Run Man Run”), all of which deliver the goods as usual. But it’s the patience of the record that makes me think maybe King Blood’s making room for Neu! or Can or even the Dead C amongst their more eardrum-piercing psychedelic peers. The amps are still on fire, but he’s figured out a way to keep it smoldering over a longer period without shorting out. Playing spot-the-reference is ultimately a moot point when you’re immersed in the glorious din; Hocus Focus smokes, man, and that’s all you need to know.
Richie Records/Testostertunes subsidiary Petty Bunco put out King Blood’s Hocus Focus on LP in an edition of 265." - goodbysunball