The Greek blues band Small Blues Trap (Paul Karapiperis – vocals, harmonica, rhythm and resonator guitar, percussion, Panagiotis Daras – rhythm and lead guitars, vocals, violin, percussion, Lefteris Besios – bass) has a fascinating new release, their fifth overall. Time Tricks (Anazitisi Records) sounds like it should be part of a Sergio Leone spaghetti western, with it’s droning rhythm guitar, hypnotic percussion, and frenetic harmonica. Yeah, I could defintely see the Mysterious Stranger riding across a barren terrian with this music in the background.
The opening track, “Gamblin’,” really captures a ghostly, sinister atmosphere with an almost-Hill Country-like rhythm and front man Karapiperis’ gravelly, desperate vocals and harmonica. “This Little Tune” is a bit more upbeat, with some nice lead guitar work from Daras. The title track is a somber, reflective tune that segues into “I Wish I Could Fly,” a funky rocker with some nice rhythm work from bass man Besios and Karapiperis’s ethereal harmonica.
I really like the grim “A Strange Shade of Red.” On this interesting track, Daras plays violin with Karapiperis playing resonator and harmonica. “I’m Leavin’ This Town” is an upbeat rock-flavored blues with piercing lead guitar work from Daras. It leads to the closing instrumental, which is called “Resurrected Jesse James Returns Back Home – From the Land of the Dead – To Take Care of Unpaid Matters,” which largely recreates the hypnotic rhythm of the opening track before moving more in a Delta blues direction near the close. Daras and Karapiperis both shine on this track, taking multiple solos on guitars and harmonica.
Time Tricks may be one of the most interesting blues recordings you’ll hear this year. I really like Small Blues Trap’s brand of blues. It incorporates a variety of blues styles (Hill County, Swamp, Delta) with rock, and their songs always follow a definite and compelling theme. As with previous projects, Small Blues Trap has uploaded the entire album in video form at YouTube, so you can preview it there.