Sometimes in life you have to dig to get what you want, and that’s the case with this German trio, who cater their sound to spacey jams and classic rock riffing. Only problem—and I mean, the only problem—here is that the label, Elektrohasch, doesn’t have US distribution. So you either find the coolest import shop in the world, or you head online to colourhaze.de or stonerrock.com. In either case, well worth the effort.
Colour Haze’s eighth album, Tempel is chock full of the signature guitar noodling that began to really take hold on their 2004 self-titled offering. Opener “Aquamaria” is eight- plus minutes of an extended jam with sparse lyrics, the six-string work of frontman Stefan Koglek (who also runs Elektrohasch) providing the focal point for the direction of the song. “Aquamaria,” undoubtedly chosen as a beginning track to set the tone for what’s to come, does so excellently, and chills out the listener with a ready ease.
The quiet and dreamy “Fire” comes next, with a sparse guitar line that builds into prime stoner boogie, drummer Manfred Merwald and bassist Philipp Rasthoffer donating a solid foundation to the cause. This song is all about the switch that comes just past the four-minute mark when it takes off into one of the catchiest, grooviest movements on the record. From here, the album goes back into more solid stoner territory, the fuzzy “Mind” and bass-led title track providing a quality conclusion to Side A.
After being together for well over a decade, the members of Colour Haze are clearly comfortable with each other as players, and it shows on the back half of Tempel. “Gold & Silver,” a straightforward jam that could have come off any ’70s lost classic leads the charge, if you can call anything so laid back a charge. Things liven up on “Earth,” Merwald’s fuzzy bass sounding huge in the mix even as Koglek’s solo soars over it.
Closing tracks “Ozean” and “Stratofarm” find Colour Haze diving headfirst into a pool of universes, all bright colors, reverb and planetary evolution. On the former we hear a guitar tone warm enough to hatch a baby chicken and on the latter patient, methodical drums beat out behind layered vocals; as fitting an end as “Aquamaria” was a beginning.
Wrapped in strikingly beautiful teal (aquamarine) and gold artwork, Tempel is yet another triumph for this cult act whose sound is always expanding and never disappointing. Koglek, Merwald and Rastoffer, having matured as musicians, are now writing the most accomplished songs of their career. Tempel is, indeed, worthy of worship.