Highway Stars

Datura4 CosmicWest Coast Highway Cosmic - Datura4 (Alive Natural Sound) 

Four albums into the game and they’re still smoking - in the non-carcinogenic sense. Even though the title describes a well-traveled road between their two chosen recording studios in Western Australia, Datura4 is yet to hit a speed hump.

“West Coast Highway Cosmic” is a very different beast to its predecessors but nonetheless another prime achievement.  The addition of keyboardist Bob Patient to the core membership of Dom Mariani, bassist Stu Loasby and drummer Warren Hall has broadened the palette. 

Mariani is best known for leading venerable Aussie band The Stems who brought the ‘60s to The Australian ‘80s scene, but his earliest influences were absorbed from the Oz Rock pantheon of the early ‘70s. Mariani grew up in the West Australian port town of Fremantle so much of what he took on board was glimpsed via the national broadcaster's GTK filmclp show.

Mariani ably manages all the guitar parts and, of course, sings. The band’s ethos remains true to its early ‘70s sonic ambitions. D4 is harking back but also looking forward with another choice crop of well-crafted songs. 

Bob Patient’s expansive keys are over most of these 10 tracks and recalls Jon Lord in an early Deep Purple or Warren Morgan in The Aztecs. He’s a veteran sideman who’s played with the likes of Dave Hole. Chain, Mariani’s own DM3 and a gazillion other Perth acts. He excels on cuts like “Give” and the title track, where he’s given ample space to move. 

Jam bands can often disappear up their own back catalogue but D4 rock even when they get self indulgent. The furious opening jams of “Mother Medusa” and chugging blues of “Wolfman Boogie” will leave a bruise. Dom peels off some stinging guitar on the aforementioned “Give” in particular. The rollicking blues of “Rule My World” could have brought a pissed and stoned Sunbury festival crowd to its feet at 4am. 

“You’re The Only One” switches the mood to soulful reserve. Howie Smallman adds some steamy blues harp. Patient adds the boogie woogie to “Get Out”, and adds some heavy cool to “Evil People Pt 1”, a cousin to the similarly titled song on the previous album, “Blessed is the Boogie”.

“West Coast Highway Cosmic” builds on the bedrock of “Blessed…” and if it doesn’t reach the same heights, it sure doesn’t fall short by much. Four out of four ain’t bad.


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Tags: dm3, alive natural sound, datura4, dom mariani, the stems, west coast highway cosmic

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