You know, every so often, I run across a band that just sort of blows my mind, seeps into my soul, and just sets up shop, remaining an endless source of sonic stimulation, expanding and exploding every time I listen. For me, that’s Desert Mountain Tribe, a London-based trio steeped in the aural annals of searing psychedelia and powerhouse grooves. These guys are the real thing, crafting immersive tunes that dig deep into progressive jams and endless riffs, tripping the light fantastic and soaring above the cosmic kaleidoscopic spectrum.
Admittedly, I didn’t even know they existed, until I happened upon their opening set for frontman extraordinaire Peter Murphy last week at the Novo in DTLA. You might recognize Murphy as the voice of legendary post-punk/goth-rock outfit Bauhaus. And if you don’t, shame on you. Seriously, though, Murphy’s a creative force to be reckoned with. So when he endorses these guys, bringing them along on his Ruby Anniversary tour, celebrating 40 years of Bauhaus, that’s got to count for something.
I almost missed them, thanks to L.A. traffic, as well as not even knowing they’d be on the bill. Thankfully, the energy was good, serendipitously synced, and I arrived just as they took the stage. It’s something amazing when an act can catch you off guard, and just win you over with solid musicianship, casual confidence, and an abundance of reverberating riches. Plus, it’s fascinating to watch a sea of black-clad goths get enveloped and entranced in Desert Mountain Tribe’s blistery bombast of psych-rock. I honestly didn’t expect them to connect with this crowd. But the trio won them over. I mean, I get it. They’ve got a huge sound, fiery and full, yet melodic, hypnotic, and even a little ethereal. It’s super easy to get lost in their rolling, tumbling flow, regardless of whether you lean into the darkness, or the light.
Now that a few days have passed, I’ve managed to do some homework, and get the skinny on Desert Mountain Tribe. They’ve been honing their psychedelic craft since 2014, with a handful of EPs, and two full albums. I’m no expert on these guys, but I’m pretty sure the majority of their set comes from the 2016 album “Either That or the Moon.” They’ve also got a more recent release from last year, “Om Parvat Mystery,” which I’m pretty sure they didn’t touch. But I could be wrong. Whatever the case, these are both brilliant efforts, full of blazing hazy rhythms, masterly cut from the rough and raw, slingshot into sweltering, supersonic drive.
Since I didn’t know any of their material at the time, I just started filming, figuring I’d sort out the details later. So the first clip I caught was the latter half of a six-string jam-centric track called “Hitzefrei” from the 2017 EP “If You Don’t Know Can You Don’t Know Köln.” That’s a tongue twister mouthful of abstract wordplay. Anyway, I really wish I had the whole thing.
Desert Mountain Tribe perform “Hitzefrei” @ the Novo on 02.28.19.
These two are the final two songs performed in their energetic set. “Coming Down” is a scorcher of a bonus track from “Either That or the Moon,” and originally saw release on their 2014 eponymously titled EP. The show’s smokey closer, “The King,” is a deep bass groove with shattered rabbles of frenzied feedback, and comes from another 2014 EP, titled “Jim (Original Music from the Radio Play).” Not entirely sure if it’s really from a radio play, or that’s just another abstract title. The song’s excellent, nonetheless.
Desert Mountain Tribe perform “Coming Down” @ the Novo on 02.28.19.
Desert Mountain Tribe perform “The King” @ the Novo on 02.28.19.
I’m also offering my best guess of a setlist, cobbled together from memory, as well as previous performances documented on the internet. If I’m off the mark, it’s still a hell of a playlist to use as introduction to Desert Mountain Tribe.
Lastly, here’s a track I know they didn’t perform, but I totally love, and wish they did. It’s called “Feel the Light,” and the title speaks for itself. Enjoy this and all the other offerings of Desert Mountain Tribe. I’m hoping they break big on the indie circuit … maybe a Desert Daze slot … hint, hint. Anyway, they’re well worth your time, if you’re into this sort of thing. And if not, they just might be the gateway band to shower a little psychedelia into your life. Again, enjoy!
“Feel the Light” from the 2016 album “Either That or the Moon.”