Like Stanley Kubrick, Mammatus are slowing in output as they forge surely and steadily down the path of their artistic legacy. Now, 8 years since their last release and 20 years since their inception as a band, Mammatus have recorded a sprawling masterwork. Expanding Majesty is not just a career defining album for the band but one that pushes the boundaries of 21st Century heavy music.

Formed by brothers Nicky and Aaron Emmert in 2005 in Santa Cruz, California, the same fertile Redwoods-and-sea incubator that produced fellow outer-region psych travelers Comets on Fire, Residual Echoes and The Fucking Champs, Mammatus have become increasingly reclusive in the years since their inception. They have also been honing their vision of mathy stoner rock, proto-new age, Kraut-prog and organic proto-metal into a panoramic, ever-expanding visionary world uniquely their own resulting in Expanding Majesty. Engineered by Phil Manley (The Fucking Champs/ Trans Am) at El Studio in San Francisco, four extended side-long pieces take the listener on a journey in which they experience reality only through the mind and vision of Mammatus. 

Bassist Chris Freels: The record’s theme is about being in awe of the nearly unbearable overwhelming beauty and energy of creation and existence. The theme came about naturally and revealed itself to us throughout the process. We are a very slow acting and methodical band and our creative process reflects that. We drew inspiration from our daily experiences; an epic hike, reading a great poem, listening to new music, our families, God, meditation, prayer, great books, bike rides, camping, great food, the forest, the ocean, the sky, the mountains.

The album opens with the 15+ minute ‘Expanding Majesty,’ as guitarist and singer Nicky Emmert strikes a single window-rattling guitar chord and breaks the darkness, shooting a ray of sonic light forth and letting it hang, glowing for a moment before Mammatus begins to assuredly introduce and weave together the album’s strands of DNA; kaleidoscopic guitar notes in infinite double helix, soaring 70’s analog synthesizers, wall-of-amps bass, 100ft drums and finally, no sooner than 71/2minutes into the song, huge and ethereal vocals in cascading harmonic layers.

Opener ‘Expanding Majesty’ in its long running, epic arc, travels from the meditative and joyful un-earthed flight of 70’s Kosmische godfathers like Popol Vuh and Tangerine Dream to the kinds of tectonic sub-surface riffage pioneered by The Melvins and Sleep and these two poles of heavyocity maintain the balance of the albums 69 minutes. 

Despite the intensity of the music veering between darkness and light, the subject matter and intention of the music is strictly positivism, awe and wonder at the beauty of the natural world and the possibilities of expanded human consciousness. 

On the albums closing track “Beams of Light” Nicky sings: 

For the beauty of the earth

For the glory of the skies

For the sun in evening sets

And mornings rise

Oh the wonders of each hour

Of day and night

Hill, vale, tree, and flower

Stars of light

On the line where the sky and water meet

On beams of light

16 years ago and only two years into their existence, Mammatus essentially dropped out of the indie music rat race and were absorbed back into the Santa Cruz hills and valleys, walking away from an expanding touring career and the traditional non-stop release/ promote/ tour/ release cycle to find out if there was something more profound at the true heart of creativity and ‘being a band.’ In 2007, having just come off a successful US tour with Acid Mothers Temple, they retreated and reconfigured their musical life around the idea of peak creativity and peak quality of output completely off timeline or professional agenda. Their releases began to slow down and they began to create music with glacial precision.

Bassist Chris Freels:  Our main focus with the band became clear; make epic music, do it on our terms, only involve ourselves with the people we like, don’t get burnt out so we can keep the flame alive. For Expanding Majesty we began writing these songs over 8 years ago and each song went through multiple iterations before we ended up with these final recorded versions.

 There have been bands that have taken 8 years to release an album but very few who intentionally afford their creativity such time to patiently, steadily and mindfully work on a record and see it through to completion. 

The old-growth redwoods, the grassy hills and mountain tops, the crashing ocean, the blue sky into the black of space into the infinite universe are all the stuff of Expanding Majesty, both its subject matter and its genetic structure. It is a slow work, made of patience, tradition and love of craft, a master rendition of the beauty of our world, fantastic and incredible through the eyes of Mammatus.