By Matt Hinch
When I heard first Born to Deal in Magic: 1952-1976 by Saskatoon’s Shooting Guns I was blown away. This was psychedelic heavy stoner instrumental sweetness of the highest order. Too bad I was a year late to the party. But now that I’m onboard, the party will never stop. Shooting Guns are back with their latest long player, Brotherhood of the Ram. Again the Guns are blazing with six tracks of blissed-out jams fit for copious consumption. Now, I know some people say that track-by-track reviews are unprofessional or whatever. But you know what, man? Shooting Guns don’t have a singer so they’re not playing by “the rules”. So I’m not either. Fuck it. There are six in the chamber. Lock and load!
Brotherhood opens with “Real Horse Footage”. With instrumental music one wonders where the song titles come from. In this case I can’t help but wonder if it’s from a website that asks for age verification. Anyway, the track is based on an easy, steady riff with a killer biker feel. As is normal, it’s a hypnotic journey amid a wash of synths and organs. The bass playing of Jay Loos hides in the background anonymously propelling the song.
It’s true that “Motherfuckers Never Learn”. And this track never learned the meaning of quit. The longest on the LP strip-mines a Deep Purple strain of golden riffing and forms it into an endless highway. The track’s pace feels like mile markers clipping by as you race down that space highway. The sense of motion is barely discernible as you float on waves of psychedelic synths, pushed forward by their peristaltic inertia.
Brotherhood’s shortest track is “Predator II”. Its slow pace is a total trip. Synths form a kaleidoscope of sound around the fuzzed out tones of guitarists Chris Laramee and Keith Doepker. Clouds of smoke slow the thought process until all that’s left is the glorious tones of Hammonds and doomedelic strings.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any more laid back, the Guns make you “Go Blind”. It’s tough to keep the eyes open when all you want to do is soak in the Prairie vibe. The dusty riffs and Steven Reed’s effect-laden keys repeat the slow motion dance as the listener walks through the cooling plains into the setting sun. It’s a struggle to put one foot ahead of the other. Delirious with exhaustion, the only choice is to give in and succumb to the relaxing darkness.
The final track feels like a series of building crescendos circling back and piling on top of each other. Drummer Jim Ginther takes off the shackles and plays with reckless abandon. The waves of sound never really erupt triumphant though. It’s as if they’re trying to whip a crowd into a frenzy, get them chomping at the bit, over and over without success, because there are “No Fans”. Such jokers. Eventually Shooting Guns go underground. Hiding, waiting. Until they creep back with a familiar riff and just play for themselves as the night fades away.
With Brotherhood of the Ram, Shooting Guns have hit the bullseye again. Their hypnotic and psychedelic grooves hone in on the pleasure centres of the brain. For all the times I listened to Born to Deal and the, let me see here…. almost two dozen times I’ve spun Brotherhood each and every time I’ve been free of intoxicants. Oh, there was that one time I put it on when going to bed but my mind expanded almost instantaneously and I passed out. That’s the best part of instrumentals. Without words directing you, your mind is free to envision whatever it will. Brotherhood of the Ram holds ample ammunition for whatever you may encounter on your trip.
Join the Brotherhood. The principles are based on The Three Buds. Your buds, your Buds, and your bud. What more can you ask for?