Grails is a band most easily described as “restless”. They’ve stubbornly pushed against the staid cliches of instrumental music and towards new sonic frontiers, creating heavily textured albums, stacked deep with epic song hooks and exotic instrumentation. Grails carry echoes of the classic bands of many genres, but they combine those various styles onto a single record, under one umbrella of musical freedom. They are the renowned stylistic globetrotters of a fanatical underground record collecting scene, able to hybridize their disparate musical heritage (from The Ventures to ‘Tibetan Crime-Jazz’) with grace and confidence to build new languages out of genres that were never intended to work together.
The first incarnation of Grails emerged in 2003 on Neurot Recordings with “The Burden of Hope” and then “Redlight” in 2004. The two albums, drawn from a common batch of recording sessions, were defined by a live and earthy folk/jazz style with almost no overdubbing or post-production.
The “Interpretations…” ep, recorded amidst a late 2004 European tour for Southern Records’ ‘Latitudes’ series, revealed their international psych addictions and marked a seismic stylistic shift for the band. After the departure of violinist Timothy Horner, the recalibrated band released Black Tar Prophecies, Vol’s 1,2,&3 on Important Records in 2006, their new mission statement for a dark, reckless approach to experimentation and the beginning of a string of releases that would meet with continuously escalating acclaim for their restless re-imagining of what instrumental music can be.
Their prolific release schedule continued with “Burning Off Impurities” in ’07 (the band’s first for Temporary Residence), while two more albums would follow quickly behind in 2008, “Take Refuge In Clean Living” (Important Records), and “Doomsdayer’s Holiday”. The first Grails DVD, “Acid Rain”, was released in April 2009, summing up their career by combining live footage and the video collage work of member Emil Amos, who, in 2008, also joined the band OM.
Following the release of their most acclaimed album of their decade-long career, Deep Politics (2011), Grails revisited Black Tar Prophecies, their ever-expanding, enigmatic tapestry of eclectic experiments released in scarce limited editions that often disappear before most fans discover their existence.
Black Tar Prophecies Vol’s 4, 5 & 6 collects the last three volumes in the Black Tar series, originally released as a limited-edition 12”, and a split LP with Finish psych-rock phenoms, Pharaoh Overlord. Exclusive to this collection is Volume 6, three previously unreleased tracks that run the gamut from found-sound collage to moody, piano-driven soundtracks to obscure erotic horror films that never existed (but should have).
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