Posts Tagged ‘Eastern Psych’

Lloyd Thayer and Jerome Deupree

Always happy when the Feeding Tube mailers arrive with something that hits outside of my consciousness but well within the site’s wheelhouse. Since that crew is constantly tilling the best musical soil, this happens pretty regularly to say the least. While plenty of Eastern and American Primitive guitarists happen through the halls here, I’ve not found an entry point into the work of Lloyd Thayer previously, despite his roster of 30+ CDs and cassettes. The Boston string-slinger is working in the earthen thrum blues styles that pulls from Basho and Bull while making a stop around Hamza El Din for good measure. The artist employs a Weissenborn-style lap guitar and a 22 stringed instrument called a Chaturangui, and he winds the album into a headspace that’s entrancing, soothing, yet dipped in a mild poison that brings about strange dreams.

Thayer’s playing is masterful but restrained, a quality I’ve begun to enjoy greatly in instrumental string albums. White-knuckle string runs come and go, but its worth an album’s weight to let the songs sink into skin-ripple tension and slo-motion slide visions. Thayer delivers the dose, but doesn’t come to the task alone. He brings with him the percussion work of Jerome Deupree — a session regular and immensely versatile player who’s resume boasts time with The Humans, Joe Morris, and a co-founding credit in Morphine as the band’s original drummer. His rhythms don’t drive so much as urge the record forward. Deupree plays off of Thayer’s work with a flexibility and grace that’s palpable. His playing sways with the slides of Thayer’s stings, giving the album an even greater tie to the tumble of the winds and the hum of the Earth.

With title nods to blues legends Al Wilson and Melvyn Marshall, shouts to hip-hop pioneer Ramelzee and the boats of Apocalypse Now the record’s certainly not hitting the usual notes for this kind of vibe, but that all adds too the charm and hypnotic hold that Duets brings to the turntable. The more I listen, the more this one latches on.





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Waterless Hills

Manchester’s Waterless Hills lay an absolute gem on us, quietly eking out an eerily calm eddy of prog from under the scarred English skies. The group, which features previous Feeding Tube alum C Joynes on guitar and Dan Bridgeood-Hill on violin (Irma Vep, Charles Hayward), trades in a dark strain of folk that wanders the streets at dusk and wanders states of reality after that sun finally sets. There’s an outworld quality to the songs of The Great Mountain, and as much as that title conjures up visions of Jodorowsky’s nightmare wonders, the band makes good on them with aural imagery that’s as tarnished by ash, sand, and soil as his films. The record is dried by the sun — scorched, leathered, and laid bare — and in many moments that simmers from the speakers there’s a feeling of palpable sweat seeping through the songs. It’s not constant, though, there’s the respite of dusk and the cool ripples of clean water tumbling through natural cut rock in the bones here as well.

The guitars chime and bend, roll and ramble. The drums crash and skitter with a malevolent force and all the while that violin drags us to our feet time and time again to take the journey to the mountain on the mantle. The journey is the through line and we, as listeners, arrive changed certainly, but not exhausted. Instead there’s an elation, an unplaceable euphoria humming through the invisible wires of Waterless Hills’ offering to the endless horizon. Aside from a lone lathe cut sourced from the same sessions this is the band’s only output, but here’s hoping its not the last. The record finds its home here in the states on Feeding Tube and abroad in the arms of Cardinal Fuzz. Best grab one of these because neither of those labels has a tendency to let record sit idle in their bins.



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Swimming In Bengal

Sacramento psych outfit Swimming in Bengal conjure up some heavy Sun City Girls vibes, while delving into the heart of Eastern psych on their latest album for Lugubrious Audio / Baggage Claim. The record wraps carpets of drone around improvisations built for sax, flute, harmonium, gourd guitar, and scattered shards of percussive debris. Its easy to play at creating psych that wanders into the exotic, try on a few fancy hats and pretend that non-Western music carries the only chords that “speak to you,” but SIB seem to have spent a bit more time laying into the meat that supports carrying the mantle here.

Multi-instrumentalist Tony Passarell worked with Danish-Congolese saxophonist and composer John Tchicai, and has gone on to build a unit of players that admirably blend the drive of European free-jazz, South Asian traditional tones, drone and good ole flame roasted psych. Garden of Idle Hands builds as an album, first and foremost, each track a cracked cobble stone in its craggy and crusted structure. The band has a way of imparting a worn feeling of age, timeless and turbulent to their work and as such there are few moments in the record that feel like the were laid to tape in 2016. They dart through worn street tapes picked up at adhoc Indian markets, ’60s jazz flare ups and subsequent ’70s jazz infatuations with stronger connections to non-American sounds. While it may sound on paper that the band is reaching to too many corners simultaneously, in the headphones is sounds like they may have struck just the right balance.


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