Big Scenic Nowhere is “Vision Beyond Horizon”

I’ve always said that music should be considered its own element. Sure maybe it’s not as vital as air or water but it is powerful and it can move someone. Any fan of music can attest to this. Certain songs or albums you can literally close your eyes and hear and travel to another moment in time or have your entire mood change.  But those certain songs or albums are in a different league than others. They have the special it and a magic that can’t be explained. For me, “Vision Beyond Horizon” by Big Scenic Nowhere has that magic. 

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Big Scenic Nowhere is truly a supergroup that includes the elite of the stoner rock scene. Built around Bob Balch (Fu Manchu) and Gary Arce (Yawning Man) the band had automatic credibility and a buzz throughout the scene. But what caught my attention and intrigue was that even though both Fu Manchu and Yawning Man have been pioneers of the stoner and desert rock genre and are absolute legends they are drastically different in style. Balch and Fu Manchu are fuzzed out balls to the walls riff gods. Yawning Man are ambient and spacey with layers that bend time . I could not wait to hear how Balch and Arce would sound together and what they would come up with. Soon, other names surfaced on who would be involved. Legendary names like Nick Oliveri (Kyuss, Queens Of The Stone Age, Mondo Generator) and Bill Stinson (Yawning Man) only added to the hype.  Then you hear the road warrior and “Mos Generator” leader Tony Reed was on board. Tony’s son Kylen Reed also got in on the act contributing bass on a track.  Mix in Lisa Alley and Ian Graham from “The Well” and the intrigue and excitement only grew bigger. Balch and Acre also recruited Per Wiberg (Kamchatka, ex-Opeth) to do some work on the keys. Lastly, and for me this just put things over the top, was the announcement that the god father of the desert Mario Lalli (Yawning Man, Fatso Jetson) and musical genius Alain Johannes (QOTSA, Them Crooked Vultures) were also part of this. Balch and Arce did not hold back on getting the cream of the crop. With every name that leaked as a contributor the hype only grew. 

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Let me be really clear about something! Big Scenic Nowhere is not just hype or a superband novelty act. I’m sure that no matter what Bach, Arce and this amazing list of musicians came up with would have sold and been a success just on their track record and rock god status alone. But, what makes Big Scenic Nowhere so special is that it is far from cookie cutter and the music is so free and pure. The songs are crafted beautifully  and are delivered in such an authentic vibe. I’m not just talking tones, mix or production. Either. You can literally hear and feel the chemistry that magically Balch and Arce orchestrated.  

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So let’s break down  “Vision Beyond Horizon”

Track one titled “The Glim” hits you hard right out of the gate and hooks you deep. Its built around a swanky riff that rolls you along and is trance-like. I get a taste of Pink Floyd or some of the more complex tracks from Soungarden. Dare i say I even get a Moody Blues type feeling. “The Glim” is so unique and beautifully written that is littearlly  the best description I could come up with. Written by Balch, Arce and Johannes “The Glim” sets the tone for the rest of the album.  The guitar work is masterful and the vocal performance by Johannes is Haunting and moving. “The Glim” is one hell of a way to kick of “Vision Beyond Horizon”

Alain Johannes (Vocals, Lead Guitar)

Bob Balch (Guitar)

Gary Arce (Guitar)

Tony Reed (Mellotron) 

Mario Lalli (Bass)

Bill Stinson (Drum

 

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Track Two “The Paranoid” is a punch to the face old school hardcore track with face melting guitar work. Featuring Tony Reed on Vocals and a strong bass performance by his son Kylen “The Paranoid” is sure to get you going.  I hear some Bad Brains and early COC.  Also, it is actually Tony Reed beating the drums on this one and he killed it! 

Tony Reed (Vocals)

Bob Balch (Guitar)

Kylen Reed (Bass)

Tony Reed (Drums)

 

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Track Three  “Then I was Gone” is built on another rad riff. The vibe is dark, dissonant and a bit mysterious. Ian Graham and Lisa Alley’s vocal performance is strong and helps drive this vibe home. I love the lyrics on this one. You can hear a bit of the Fu Manchu style in the fuzzy guitar and also some Queens Of The Stone Age mixed in. Again though, Big Scenic is so unique it’s hard to pinpoint a sound. “Then I Was Gone” is very contemporary but has this shine of something very 60’s or early 70’s to it. You just don’t hear music like this anymore.  I love how the songs main riff pushes while the chorus riff pulls. 

Ian Graham (Vocals)

Lisa Alley (Vocals)

Bob Balch (Guitar)

Gary Arce (Guitar)

Bob Balch (Bass)

Bill Stinson (Drums)

 

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Track Four “Mirror Image” is one of my favorite tracks on the album. Its heavy and dark but in such a graceful way. Tony Reed absolutely crushed it vocally on this one.  The way he harmonizes and layers the vocals paint over the songs rhythm perfectly. The guitar tones are fuzz gone wild with punch and force. First time i heard “Mirror Image” I knew that it was Nick Oliveri on bass instantlly. His style and aggressive bass playing are so recognizable and classic. I love how the bass pushes this song along driven the riff home. The break down is amazing. That guitar tone is fire and  the lead work is pure gold. It shreds but delivers with a delcious melody and structure. I hear Alice In Chains meets Ozzy  with some Mos Generator all being conducted by Bowie. 

Tony Reed (Vocals)

Bob Balch (Guitar)

Gary Arce (Guitar)

Nick Oliveri (Bass)

Bill Stinson (Drums)

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Track five “Hidden Wall” is another beautiful trip back in time. It has a Floyd thing mixed with Zeppelin’s “No Quarter”  feel to it. Great work on the keys and Mellotron help paint this picture. Again, great guitar tones and riff. The lead work by Arce soars on this one. “Hidden Wall”  is one of those tracks that have so many little details and nuances to it. I suggest multiple sessions jamming this track with headphones. All the instruments works so well together and add so many layers to sink your teeth into.

Tony Reed (Vocals, Electric Piano)

Bob Balch (Guitar)

Gary Arce (Guitar)

Mario Lalli (Bass)

Per Wiberg (Mellowtron)

Bill Stinson (Drums)

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Track six “Shadows From The Altar”  is dark southern fried riff driven ride. The guitar tone is raunchy and huge. Arce paints some trippy guitar work on top that adds some depth and texture. It’s not just the go to southern rock solo you would expect. He gets a little exotic on the scale or mode he uses. Once again Lisa Alley and Graham vocally sound great. The lyrics are bad ass. Mario Lalli drops some killer bass lines to add more depth. It’s got a ZZ Top vibe with huge balls mixed with a little Soundgarden and Sabbath. I love the way Balch and Arce layer the guitars on this one. The difference in styles really shine and show how they work when comparing the rhythm and solo work.  

Ian Graham (Vocals)

Lisa Alley (Vocals)

Bob Balch (Guitar)

Gary Arce (Guitar)

Mario Lalli (Bass)

Bill Stinson (Drums)

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Track Seven “En Las Sombras” is a Pink Floyd vibe with a hint of that Lenny Breau jazz genius. This track is so good it’s almost not fair. Johannes shines vocally while Mario’s bass work is tasteful and sweet. Again, Big Scenic Nowhere create a sound that brings you back in time. “En Las Sombras” reminds me of the earlier years of Fleetwood Mac before they became a mainstream pop band.   I’m talking about something of the  “The Future Game” record. One of the things that makes this song so special is the lead guitar work. Balch, Arce and Johannes trade of solos and it creates such a rad dynamic. Their styles are different and you can really hear it in this tune.  “En Las Sombras” to me is a landmark song and the fact that Big Scenic Nowhere captured this on tape is a treasure to the world. This song blew my mind!

Alain Johannes (Vocals, Fretless Guitar)

Bob Balch (Guitar)

Gary Arce (Guitar) 

Mario Lalli (Bass)

Bill Stinson (Drums)

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Track eight “Tragic Motion Lines” is a very unique song with amazing guitar tones and a trippy guitar tuning. The song really uses the power of dynamics well and the guitar punches hard. Again great lead guitar work over another badass riff. Tony Reed delivers another strong vocal performance with great melodies and lyrics.   

Tony Reed (Vocals)

Bob Balch (Guitar)

Gary Arce (Guitar)

Bob Balch (Bass)

Bill Stinson (Drums)

 

Track nine “The War Years” is the perfect way to end the journey through “Vision Beyond Horizon.” It is mellow tune but dark, strong and complex. Again I hear early Fleetwood Mac and Pink Floyd. It’s a bit of an acid trip and a beautifully written song. I dig the moog and the intricate guitar work. This is a great track to help escape the grind of reality. 

Tony Reed (Vocals, Moog)

Bob Balch (Electric Guitar, Nylon String Guitar)

Gatos Trail (Percussion)

Per Wilberg (Mellowtron)

Mario Lalli (Bass)

Bill Stinson (Drums)

 

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So….. Basically what Big Scenic Nowhere gave the world through “Vision Beyond Horizon” is a masterful musical journey. I love how real and authentic it sounds. Some supergroups or collaborations can come of so contrived and forced. Balch and Arce really orchestrated the perfect blend of everyone’s talents and styles. The band first gave us an amazing two song EP “Dying On The Mountain” that only grew the bands hype and legend.(See My Review Here) Now with “Vision Beyond Horizon” the hype and legend are only confirmed and have grown. I can only hope that we will get more releases from this group. The music world needs it! I’m also hopeful that at some point a live version of Big Scenic Nowhere will hit the road and I will get the chance to see them live. I know that they are scheduled to make an appearance at this year’s Stoned And Dusted. That promises to be amazing.  If you are a fan of stoner rock or the desert scene you need this record. If your a fan of music in general you need this record. It is hard to put in words what Big Scenic Nowhere truly sounds like other then amazing. Do yourself a favor and check them out! Big Scenic Nowhere really pushed the boundaries of musically but does not loose sight of great song craft.

Past Interview I did with Bob Balch

Big Scenic Nowhere on Thee Facebooks

Big Scenic Nowhere on Instagram

Big Scenic Nowhere on Bandcamp

Heavy Psych Sounds on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

Heavy Psych Sounds on Bandcamp

 

BIG SCENIC NOWHERE – CREDITS

Debut album ‘Vision Beyond Horizon’

Out 31.01.20 on Heavy Psych Sounds

 

Full lineup:

Bob Balch (Fu Manchu) – Guitar / Bass on all tracks

Gary Arce (Yawning Man) – Guitar on all tracks

Tony Reed (Mos Generator) – Vocals / Keys / Drums 

– Vocals / Guitar

Nick Oliveri (Kyuss, Mondo Generator) – Bass

Bill Stinson (Fu Manchu) – Drums

Mario Lalli (Yawning Man, Fatso Jetso) – Bass

Per Wiberg (Kamchatka, ex-Opeth) – Keys

Lisa Alley (The Well) – Vocals

Ian Graham (The Well) – Vocals

Kylen Reed – Bass

 

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