Jalayan - Sonic Drive

(CD 2019, 51:30, Independent Release)

The tracks:
  1- Ishtar Gate(5:37)
  2- Descent Of Annunaki(5:48)
  3- The Tree Of Life(6:20)
  4- Vimanas(6:08)
  5- Sacred Mountains(6:58)
  6- Dub Nam(5:37)
  7- Nephilim Steps(6:02)
  8- The Library Of Ninive(8:57)

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Jalayan is an Italian project that is initiated by synth player Alessio Malatesta and according to the information on their Bandcamp page Jalayan is a musical project inspired by ancient people's mythology. The musical proposal can be described as a mix of progressive rock, psychedelic, ethnic and electronic music. Within the first few notes, it becomes clear, this is pure space rock, whatever their band info wants us to think. Together with guitarist Vincenzo Calvano, bass player Matteo Chiappa and drummer Dario Marchetti, Alessio has released their debut album; Sonic Drive.

Musically Jalayan leans heavily on the second-generation grandmothers of space rock; Ozric Tentacles and Belgium space lords Quantum Fantay also comes to mind when listening to Sonic Drive. Still at a number of points, our Italian friends differ from both bands mentioned. First of all, the drums lack the grooves of previous mentioned bands. Second, besides the usual waves of synths and mushroom influences bubbling, Alessio tries to balance the music by leaving quite a lot of space for impressive rocking guitar. I think Vincenzo's guitar adds just that little something to make Jalayan special. Listen to the opener Ishtar Gate, where the guitar adds a kind of classic rock element to the multi-layered synths, making this track a very pleasant opener for the album. During other tracks, like The Tree Of Life the guitar remains delicately in the background, a certain part in the song, where Vincenzo takes over the lead with some old school playing. Although the album, regarding the song titles should have a kind of ancient Egyptian theme, only the final composition The Library Of Ninive hints towards that theme. Nevertheless, this final track is one of my favourites on the album, balancing both synth and guitar perfectly and adding a fine groove on the bass.

If you are fan of both aforementioned bands, Sonic Drive is a very safe pursuit. Jalayan combines multi-layered synths with a slightly more pronounced guitar than both bands mentioned. But still Sonic Drive remains that typical synth sound. I think a very nice debut album; let us see how this band will develop.

***+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)

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