Terra Fractal describes their debut Does Your Mind Travel as “A journey through a hyperspace portal that leads to many discoveries of outer and inner self. The album flows together and uses ambient experimental instrumental tracks to tie all of the classically written and arranged songs together.” Based in Tempe, Arizona, Terra Fractal is a psych rock band that blends progressive and jam band elements with pop and mainstream songwriting sensibilities. Band mates in Terra Fractal include, Ryan Cronin who plays guitar and sings, Richie Sullivan plays synthesizers, Alan Fuhlrodt grooves on bass and John Stamas lays down the beat on drums. Daniel Robinson plays drums on “Prophets” while Matt Crow is featured on trumpet on “Aimee in the Attic.”
The album’s opening track “Altered States” has a great space-age, progressive sound and its production is clean, crisp and spacious. Echoing vocals, distorted bass, ethereal sounding guitars and synths add more spacey edge to the mix. The first of several soundscape space frontier-like instrumentals is “A Hyperspace Lexicon: Breaking Through.” If you love sounds and textures that are heavily experimental and creative, I think you’ll love what this band does. “Distance to Roam” cranks up the speed with ‘80s sounding synths, bright and spacious guitar riffs (reminding me of Andy Summers’ style) and smooth, thick bass lines. This song transitions into “A Hyperspace Lexicon: Breaking Through” another instrumental. This one is sparser and definitely shorter. The band’s choice of sounds and textures brings to mind a desolate new world out in space, untapped by the human race.
“Anomaly” jazzes things up with some funky grooves on bass, drums and guitars. The words describe an “irregularity” or “Inconsistency” to one’s life, which is what the song’s title means – “The plans I've made / Always fade / With each new phase / I rearrange / I'm not the same / But how I've changed /With me remains an anomaly.” The ending parts to the song get really good, psychedelic and progressive. The next instrumental is “A Hyperspace Lexicon: Entities.” A longer song, which continues on the theme of the last two no-lyric tunes. More textures, layers and mystery come through quite well on this one. “Happy Place” starts off with mellow, melodious guitar and then the drums drop in with a sporadic beat. The song reaches into several influences: reggae, island and progressive. After the four-minute mark, the band jams into a nice outro part with nice, vocal harmonies.
The last instrumental, theme-oriented tune is “A Hyperspace Lexicon: Déjà Vu.” I liked this one a lot. To me, it truly had a spooky vibe to it. I wish the band recorded more of it – I was really getting into it. “Waterslide” felt kind of like, one-part R&B soul and one-part pop ballad, but not in the usual “hallmark” way these styles are known for. The band brings their own style to these genres, mixing them together with a progressive rock edge. I thought this song was one of the band’s best. “Aimee in the Attic” features heavier and edgier synth sounds, bongos and trumpet by Matt Crow. This tune was a favorite, not just because it was an instrumental, but because I thought the group was really daring and gutsy with the instrumental choices and musical arrangements they made.
One of the longest songs on the album is “Prophets” and it features a more traditional progressive rock feel. Halfway in, the band picks up the tempo in an almost samba style of playing and then slows things down, adding spaciousness as the drum beat drops out and Cronin wails out some guitar riffs. He sings the chorus, ending the song.
The ending track is also the title to the album and it’s the band’s longest. The opening words – “I want to see heaven / Open up and something come out /But didn't want it to feel this way” suggests disappointment and desperation. The mood of the song gets sad and moody, quiet and loud. Further in, the lyrics speak of deep remorse – “Oh no / I've turned it upside down /I'll watch the world spin backwards now /What have I done? / I don't know how this all began dissolving.” The band belts out some explosive and powerful sounds during the song’s intermission – I would even categorize their playing as rock orchestral. If I chose one song for any listener to hear from Terra Fractal, it would be this one – wow! This southwest U.S. band is a force – complex, creative, and highly imaginative, Does Your Mind Travel is a solid debut that should be listened to more than once.
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