Artist: Ayahuasca Dark Trip
Album: The Unknown Trip At The Top Of The Mountain
Label: Buh Records
Written by: Aaron Michael Kobes
There are countless bands that have attempted to encapsulate the transcendental psychedelic experience through exercises of mental gymnastics derived from over produced and saturated pedal fuckery. Then there is Ayahuasca Dark Trip who just fucking make it happen, a “Turn on, tune in, drop out” sort of ease ala Timothy Leary. What Ayahuasca Dark Trip has accomplished in their 2011 release, Unknown Trip At The Top Of The Mountain, is an immersive, sunken, experience that first intrigues than transfixes the listener until they are completely new eloped by the singular experience labeled simply numerical titular tracks.
Unknown Trip At The Top Of The Mountain is a simple record in that it is relatively straightforward in its goal, and functionality while additionally being simplified in its presentation. That goal is total and complete escapist immersion that draws the listener in in a progressive fashion, doled out at paced, albeit irregular, intervals. Where this record achieves its greatest success is its patience, both in the aforementioned pacing by Ayahuasca perfomatively, and by the expectation of patience by the listener. Utilizing the first track as an example, there is a yawning low-end, bass type sound to lay the foundational work of background noise-a canvas with which to layer paint, quickly added to by bright, higher end, near screeching sounds. This is then tempered off, or cooled out, by mixing in duller shades of the bass sounds, bringing the brighter mixture down tonally speaking, before it is hedged off entirely only to be brought back in rolling waves.
All of this takes place in under two minutes that feels more like ten, in the best possible way. Moving towards, just south of the halfway mark there is a thundering that is cinematic in quality as if heralding the newest trailer for an apocalyptic film. After words, there is a fall off into ambient territory for a bit of a stretch before bringing in a flute that has been modulated to sound as if it is playing off an old worn cassette, cutting in and out as the Lo-fi creates a juxtaposition against the tracks earlier mixing.
The record progresses in much the same fashion as described above, although in different formatting temporally and sonically, with various shifts to help keep everything fresh. While it could be argued that the record is meant to be viewed as a whole, one long continuous stream, I would offer a counter argument that the delineation of tracks act as movements within the record itself-while still agreeing that it should be viewed as one piece overall. Looking at Unknown Trip At The Top Of The Mountain II and IV there is a more ambient, smooth texture to them, with minimal extraneous noise and mix-ins, whereas Unknown Trip At The Top Of The Mountain I, II and III bring in more of the experimental soundscapes that play with the listener’s expectations, providing a roughened landscape to traverse through with varying textures of sound. This creates a sense of dynamism, as much as one can get within Drone, that helps the record breathe its own irregular and ragged breathing.
Having a record like Unknown Trip At The Top Of The Mountain, is incredibly handy for those that want to find a space of quiet contemplative exploration, in either the texturing of sound, or their own thoughts. It also comes in handy for those of us too cowardly to attempt psychedelics for themselves, of which I account myself one of those cowards, and who still have a passing interest in a transformative experience to a varying degree. It is also a marvel in and of itself, in that it accomplishes so much in its varied offerings, while seemingly with so little, a testament unto itself of the explorative nature of the inward glance given the right aid.
Be righteous by listening to and supporting Ayahuasca Bad Trip on Bandcamp: https://buhrecords.bandcamp.com/album/br31-ayahuasca-dark-trip-the-unknown-trip-at-the-top-of-the-mountain