VARIOUS Desert Sessions 7 & 8 (Rekords Rekords/Southern Lord)

The Desert Sessions series contains recordings assembled by lead Queen Of The Stone Age Joshua Homme and a loose coalescence of musicians related in some way to that band, including Chris Goss of Masters Of Reality and former Screaming Tree Mark Lanegan. Volumes 7 and 8 in the series have been issued as a double 10" set, pressed on black and white vinyl respectively.

And they sound like…? Well, nothing at all like Queens Of The Stone Age - when they threaten to, as on "Nenada", a waltz through alien time signatures is never far away to prevent proceedings from becoming too familiar. A spirit of rampant experimentation pervades "Desert Sessions 7 & 8" - even more so than in the excellent music Homme produces in his day job. Several tracks here seem to betray a distinct East European influence - the mandolin-strumming hoe-down of "Don't Drink Poison", for example - whilst others weld the needle to the red side of the strangeness scale: examine "Interpretive Reading", in which an x-rated, acid-fried edition of "Jackanory" apparently competes for the listener's attention against "Songs Of Praise" and some very free jazz, and "Covousier" is a smooth-talking Barry White fireside ode to family planning and murder. "Polly Wants A Crack Rock" is as much of a Nirvana parody as the title suggests, whilst "Cold Sore Superstars" sounds alarmingly like dEUS. The best moments, however, are marginally more conventional: Mark Lanegan imbues the very "Four Sticks"-like "Hanging Tree" with a brooding menace absent from the source material, and "Making A Cross" is a similarly themed balalaika 'n' harmonium ballad.

Almost entirely great music, then, but its strength - the thrilling diversity on offer, the complete abandonment of any inkling of what might be next in line - might also be its downfall, sapping its coherency as an album-length listening experience, where a Queens Of The Stone Age or Kyuss long-player will gain some extra bludgeoning power by being drawn from a far narrower range of textures. But if you like either of these bands, and are drawn to something (even) farther out, this brief but chunky collection might be exactly what you require.