So let me declare my hand up front. I reckon Modus Operandi Brewing (http://www.mobrewing.com.au/#beerfirst ) are making some of the very best beers going around right now. And I am a massive, massive fan of San Diego instrumental heavy-psych trio Earthless (https://www.facebook.com/earthlessrips/ ). And so when Modus Operandi named an IPA in honour of Earthless’s debut album ‘Sonic Prayer’, well I was agog with excitement and anticipation.
Earthless, for the uninitiated, are all about the jams. ‘Sonic Prayer’ the album was released back in 2005 and consists of just two songs each twenty-plus minutes long. But these are not meandering, self-indulgent noodlings. Instead, Earthless trade in jams of the mind-frying, acid-drenched, foot-to-the floor variety. Basically, they just plug in, blast off and come back only when they are good and ready. The backbone is the amazing rhythm section of bassist Mike Eginton and drummer Mario Rubalcaba who lay the powerful, relentless foundations over which Isaiah Mitchell unleashes his Hendrix-influenced pyrotechnics. And make no mistake, Mitchell is an extraordinarily gifted guitarist.
‘Sonic Prayer’ established the template from which the trio have continued to evolve, culminating in the mighty ’From the Ages’ album from 2013. But for me, ‘Sonic Prayer’ is an album I keep coming back to. It captured my attention when it came out with its rawness, energy, fearlessness and of course stunning musicianship and I still love it now.
But is ‘Sonic Prayer’ the beer a good match for ‘Sonic Prayer’ the album? Well, of course it is, and furthermore after spending a blissful summer afternoon listening to a whole bunch of Earthless LPs while making my way through a few ‘Sonic Prayer’ IPAs, I can say that the latter is a fine match for any Earthless album you care to name. The combination is in fact a feast for the senses. Lose yourself in those cosmic grooves while you marvel at the multi-hued riot of flavours. ‘Sonic Prayer’ the beer is loaded up with new world hops, which come through in the aroma and an initial burst of fruit salad flavour, that is well offset by a strong malt body. The finish is classic West Coast IPA; very piney, resinous and deliciously bitter. The flavour, much like the jams, never seems to end. At 6% ABV you need to handle with a bit of care, but when consumed at a relatively responsible pace in the company of good music and/or good friends, you will find yourself in a most happy place indeed.
I can personally attest that Earthless are an absolutely breathtaking live band, and I can only begin to imagine what it would be like to be at an Earthless gig where they actually served ‘Sonic Prayer’ the beer. Now that would be truly mind-blowing.