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Review: Scared Bunny – 3:33 am (released October 31, 2017)

Scared Bunny is a project by Toronto, Canada’s Vladimir Skokovich. Originally inspired by artists like Hawkwind, Tangerine Dream and Pink Floyd, over the course of 14 years and 4 albums, Skokovich has chiseled out his own unique niche in the psych rock landscape. The latest album, 3:33 am finds Scared Bunny hopping into unknown fields, in search of fresh ideas and sounds. And believe me, he finds them.

The album abounds with varying tones and colours, from atmospheric excursions to blistering rockers. The opening track, Leaside Morning, pairs ambient sounds of cars and birds with mellow guitar until the drums come in and the song bursts open like the first golden rays of dawn bathing the city in their radiance. But the moment is fleeting as the album takes a left turn into a darker and more political nature with No Silence! Skokovich pulls no punches, addressing our current world situation with blunt force, empowering his listeners to speak out, as a propulsive rhythm pounds underneath, dark, angry guitars imbued with snarling twang creeping throughout. Skokovich experiments more with vocals on this album than any of his previous efforts as Scared Bunny, as we hear everything from quiet muttering to full on singing, but the majority of the album remains instrumental.

The album covers a wide range of styles, from the somewhat folky sounding tracks like Anger & Pain and the aforementioned Leaside Morning, to the raw garage rock of Pigeons to eerie ambient experimental pieces like the title track. But it’s in the Krautrock and space rock influenced songs where Skokovich really takes off and flies. In tracks like Flowers of Chernobyl and Kui, he carves searing guitar textures and ambient sounds into driving motorik rhythms for some exhilarating spins. One of the standout tracks on the album is the 9-minute epic The Creeper, which indeed starts with creepy, twisty guitar noodling and eerie laughter, and a spoken word meditation on our knowledge of mortality, before the main guitar kicks in with some mesmerizing, psychedelic riffery set to heavy drum beats. The piece continues to unfold, growing more and more intense till it’s pummelling your brain into sheer madness, at least for a moment or two.

Skokovich also rockets into more cosmic realms with the Hawkwind influenced Spaceshit Savage Stomp, but puts his own Scared Bunny stamp on it with delirious and beautiful guitar melodies that soar above the grungy rhythms and swirl through deep dimensions of light and shadow. Flutterby likewise amps it up with a nice balance of ambient spaces melting into shimmering cosmic rocking. Another standout track on the album is Frightened Rabbit Circle Dance. It starts with groaning and bristling bass coupled with chugging rhythms, dancing crazily along until a sequence of pulsing, coiling guitar patterns emerges and takes the piece to its staggering conclusion.

Each album for this musician has been an evolution and 3:33 am is no exception, as Skokovich pushes the boundaries further, expanding on the Scared Bunny sound and style for a breathtaking sonic journey. This one made it into my Top 25 albums of 2017. Check it out!

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