Founded in 2016, The Alligator Wine are an experimental Krautrock project formed of Rob Vitacca on vocals, moog bass, and percussion, as well as Thomas Teufel on drums and “spooky voice”. On the 24th of April, the band released their debut album, ‘Demons of the Mind’, which features nine solid tracks heavily influenced by early 70’s psychedelic music.
Words: Erik Damian
Referred to by the band as “a culmination of everything we’ve done so far,” the album balances gallows humour against melancholic themes in an effort to create a unique vibe that takes you on a “psychedelic journey into a dark yet groovy space.”
While the sonic structures may be inspired by that sound, they feel totally up to date for the 21st century, which Rob suggests “Happened by chance,” explaining to MetalTalk, “I mean, I am listening to so many different kind of music – from the doors to QOTSA and the fact that we do not have to follow any rules in the band makes the sound kind of unique at the end of the day.”
This distillation of sound is backed up by a traditional song-writing process, which Rob explains, “Thomas is a tremendous sound architect, so whenever we meet, I can be sure that he is coming up with some new weird sounds, ha ha! So basically, we meet, we experiment with sounds and then we start jamming.”
That process becomes very evident as you listen to ‘Demons On The Mind’. Each track stands firmly on its own, but there is a thread that runs through them, like a subtle connective tissue, which ties them all together at the end.
Opening track ‘Shotgun’ features a haunting keys, stick, and melancholy vocal intro before coming in like a slap to the face, full of dark energy. Rob describes it as “the first track we wrote for the album. Everyone loved this track right from the start. It’s like a weird tasting cocktail that makes you feel good. We really love the energy of the track, and we just wanted to go out with a bang! So, it soon became very clear that it has to be the first single release.”
As album openers go, this definitely sets the stage for what comes next; expanding into ‘Crocodile Inn’, ‘Voodoo’, ‘Ten Million Slaves’ and ‘The Flying Carousel’.
Moving into the second half of the album, we have the brooding and ethereal ‘Lorane’. One of the stand-out tracks on the album, the band describes it as having a Twin Peaks vibe to it and as a fan of all things Lynchian, it is undeniable.
If Twin Peaks ever makes another return to our screens, this deserves to be in the soundtrack. Rob agrees, adding, “We really love losing ourselves in those superdeep atmospheres. For me it’s the best way to get rid of my inner demons. Basically it’s the darkest and most personal track on the record and yeah, I’d also love to hear it in a soundtrack.”
Finishing up the album, we have ‘Dream Eyed Little Girl’, ‘Mamae’, and ‘Sweetheart On Fire’, which closes ‘Demons On The Mind’ on an exemplary note.
This is a difficult album to pin down, but that is key to its charm. It is familiar and yet at times alien, but it works on an intrinsic level.
At its heart it’s still a Psychedelic Rock album, but it has transcended the genre and presents something new for listeners to engage with.
The experience is made all the more enjoyable by the clarity of the production. The album produces a big sound, and nothing is lost, which Rob explains is due to the methods employed.
“It was the best of both worlds. I mean we had Hammond Organs, Fender Rhodes, old moog synthesizer and all that stuff but also a Nord Electro 5D – which we really love. We just tried to figure out which sound fits best on each track.
“We wanted every track to sound as unique as possible.”
The result is a plush sound that makes you want to sit back, pop on the headphones and sip your favourite whisky as the sounds wash over you.
If I have any complaints about the album, it’s that it left me wanting at least one more song. While that could have been a purposeful choice to leave the listener wanting more.
Rob disagrees explaining, “Oh! Glad you wanted one more song, ha ha! That’s a good sign, right? Well you know, actually it was not really our intention – it just felt like we had the perfect choice of songs for the album.” And that’s a fair statement.
As you listen to ‘Demons On The Mind’, there is a deepening connection to the music that forms and builds over the course of the album. It would be a real shame to dilute that with a song that may not have quite fit.
So, if you’re a fan of Rock and like to explore all the divergent pathways the genre has taken over the years, then this is an album you will want to pick up.