Ancestors continue to up the emotional ante on powerful ‘In Dreams and Time’

I love getting in on the ground floor with new artists and listening to them grow. Sometimes that’ll start for me if I happen to be lucky enough to get turned onto a band’s demo, but most often it takes place when I get my hands on a group’s debut offering, be that a 7-inch, EP, full-length, whatever. I’ve liked tons of bands’ first efforts, but not all of them have kept me interested to continue along with their journey toward a full catalog. The ones that do keep me end up becoming some of my favorite bands.

One band that grabbed me right away and tightened its grip over time is Los Angeles psyche rockers Ancestors, a band that started off burly and muddy, like a spaced-out Neurosis, and continued to shape-shift from that point. The group has yet to put out two recordings that sound anything like each other, and each effort always seems to come from a different mind frame or mood. Maybe that makes it sound like Ancestors are all over the map, but they are not. They are channeled and on point always, and their first three efforts have gotten ample play time in my home. In fact, their 2011 EP “Invisible White” is still fresh on my regular playlist, so having something new from the band wasn’t necessary for me quite yet, but it absolutely was welcomed with open arms.

“In Dreams and Time” is the band’s third full-length overall, and first since 2009’s excellently sprawling concept piece “Of Sound Mind.” As noted, the new, six-track effort still has that exploratory headspace that inhabits all of their offerings, but sonically it’s nothing that apes their other three efforts. If anything, it’s like a pulling together of parts, using elements that made their other records work so well and combining them to make a better machine. The punchiness they displayed on their debut “Neptune With Fire” can be heard in spots, the stretching of the imagination brought out on “Of Sound Mind” can be felt, and the emotional vulnerability displayed on “Invisible White” (especially on the EP’s namesake opening track) also makes a return. That combination of forces make this effort their most fully realized recording to date, a sign that they’ve truly grown as artists.

Ancestors seem to understand what make them tick, and this is a band that’s bound to continually get better with time. For that’s what they’ve done every year up to this point.

Ancestors aren’t exactly a heavy metal band, admittedly, but certainly those of us who dream alongside bands such as Sleep, ISIS, and YOB can find something to love here. Those more into the prog- and psyche-rock realms, who cling to Pink Floyd and King Crimson, almost assuredly will rubber-stamp this amazing display. “In Dreams and Time” is a record that’s soaked with heart and soul, life’s blood, and the perspiration generated when in the clutches of a vivid, meaning-rich dream, one that makes you think your inner visions are reality until you truly wake up.

The records opens with the gazey “Whispers,” a nine-minute cut that does get a little volatile at times, but seems to be setting the pace for the rest of the record. “The Last Return” allows for the first true gushing of heart-swelling emotion, as its out-of-the-mist balladry and drop-dead gorgeous female vocals make it one of the best songs in this band’s history. It’s my favorite song on here. “Corryvreckan” brings some growlier, gruffer vocals back into play here, something we haven’t heard from the band in some time, and that runs headlong into “On the Wind,” an atmospheric, lungs-full-of-spring-air dazzler that keeps your blood pumping hard. “Running in Circles” also has some brawn and muscle to it, letting the vocals get a little throaty at times, and even the guitars get in and gut things out, allowing some punchiness to burst your bubble of serenity. Epic closer “Fight Light” sounds like the ultimate curtain raiser, as it runs almost 20 minutes and allows the band to tie up any loose ends. It’s an exciting display of psychedelic rock at its finest, with some calming passages, downright cathartic guitar interplay, organs rising like a swollen creek, and a string crescendo that could bring you to tears. When it’s over, you’ll feel spent yet likely to want to go back in for more. Nothing’s stopping you, right?

Ancestors are the perfect career rock artists, showing their promise and commitment early on, and taking that and shaping them into concrete ideas that pay dividends down the road. This band just keeps getting leaps-and-bounds better with every effort, and they deserve a wide audience and a giant hall in which to unfurl their majesty. As excited as I am about “In Dreams and Time,” I’m just as pumped to hear what they dream up next. If the band’s history is to be believed, their next piece will blow this one of out the water. And that’ll be no easy feat.

For more on the band, go here:

To buy the album, go here:

For more on the label, go here: