You know that scene in The Matrix where Thomas Anderson takes the red pill from Morpheus and is ‘reborn’ into the Matrix as Neo? Waking up in that liquid pod, being jettisoned out into a pool…after having cables snapped off of your body and gaining consciousness in a machine-ruled dystopia. Hmm, that metaphor didn’t work as well as it did in my head, but the original point stands!
Giöbia are an Italian quartet specializing in psychedelic rock that’s a true journey, though not as disturbing as my example may have led on to be. Their new album Plasmatic Idol tears at the seams of reality, lifting the veil as it were to show what lies beyond what we naturally perceive as it arcs in a cinematic and fulfilling fashion. No horrors are revealed, the mind is simply expanded beyond its normal limits – maybe a distraction from other real-life horrors if you’re so inclined.
Hold up though, let me go back to my very nearly blundered Matrix metaphor from earlier. Much like that scene, Plasmatic Idol starts off well enough, with “Parhelion” acting as an awakening of sorts – a dawning of expanded consciousness, the hum of synths conjuring alertness to you. It’s not too long after that the track evolves into a more melodic affair that works within this fogged-up/spacey atmosphere. This progression gives you a keen feeling of travelling. Where? You’ll never know ’til the the wormhole you’re in spits you out, to the tune of squealing organs and warbling guitars no less.
Much of the rest of the album houses a more conventional acid rock structure and atmosphere, playing off of the wonderful intro track while incorporating vocals and more traditionally built elements that would feel familiar and cozy to fans of classic rock from the 60s or 70s. Perhaps it’s here that your meet your destination, the sounds of songs like “In The Dawn Light” and “Haridwar” forming a psychedelic hot spring, turning your eyes into melting, kaleidoscopic orbs. It’s like an acid bath – the drug, not the corrosive agent that makes organic material dissolve (remember, I said no horrors). More like the kind that makes you tingle like a thousand packets of Pop Rocks are in the water with you.
While the first half of Plasmatic Idol is more concerned with introducing, or capitalizing on, its established tones and moods, the second half of the eight tracks are more about alteration, sending things into a veritable climax after some dramatic movements and suspenseful teasing. “The Escape” is more vibrative than a Hitachi wand with its waviness and distortion of nearly every element. If you yourself are not under the influence while listening to it, the band have got you proper covered here with its sonic manipulation that bleeds into your senses. The end of the track thrills like a chase sequence in a movie with higher tempo and stakes than before, a good complement to the next track “Far Behind”, which is similarly tense.
By the time you get to the end of Plasmatic Idol, you feel drained like you just had a rigorous massage, both mentally and physically. After all, the mind can be massaged as well, and after exhibiting all the sensual manipulation that Giöbia deal in, it won’t be uncommon for your grey matter to feel like pulled taffy, sweet and warm to the touch. The foursome are confident in what they are and what they do. There’s a lot of nuance to be found here, and repeat listens would surely reward you with more than you found before. I can’t rightfully caution anyone against experiencing this album, suffice it to say that if any of the above sounds like something you would like, this is for you.
Plasmatic Idol feels expertly engineered to just as easily impress as it disarms with its psychedelic charm. If music is the land of Oz, then Giöbia have built the yellow brick road by which you can traverse its colorful landscape. The experience is only as linear as you want it to be, so I encourage you to lay back and enjoy the ride, many times if you wish. There aren’t many better ways to start out a new year, let alone a new decade, as we wearily press forward with the march of time into uncertainty. At least do it on your terms with some great musical accompaniment.