Gold Coast act Mekong Merchants are an intriguing new addition to the ranks of the psychedelic rock revival. Despite ‘Ocean Tones’ being their debut release, the core axis of the group, guitarist/vocalist Stu Tome and bassist Kenji Tamura, are worldly travellers and seasoned musical journeymen, which is reflected in the timeless, focused and confident vibe of the EP, belying the fledgling nature of the project. Prolific Gold Coast musician Scott French, of Love Street Studios (where the EP was recorded), also features on drums.
Opening number, ‘Distance’, sets the tone early, a mid paced cosmic delight, with ethereal, psych channelling guitar tones cutting large swathes throughout its duration. The words kick in at around the two minute mark, augmented with uplifting male/female vocalising, before the track fades away on the back of some gorgeous, gospel tinged, a cappella harmonising.
‘Gone’ is a wistful and breezy ode to lost love with a vaguely Latin feel and time signature, delivering a splendid guitar wig-out from Tome as it rides off into the sunset.
‘Battle’ floats out of the blocks on a dreamy wash of acoustic guitar, before the drums kick in, the track steadily building then majestically soaring into the stratosphere on the back of another searing, acid fried guitar break.
‘Extinct’ commences with keyboards and acoustic guitars before locking into an insistent, head nodding groove that grabs you and doesn’t let go.
And final number, ‘Animals’ announces itself with a wash of sampled bird sounds, before an insistent, steadily building guitar and bass groove rides the EP home.
‘Ocean Tones’ is a lovingly executed musical sojourn through the wide open roads of psychedelia and beyond, and serves as a highly impressive introduction into the sound of Mekong Merchants. Check out our interview in these pages to find out more about them.