Posts Tagged ‘Pastoral Psych’

Bons – “Ready Reckoner”

Fruits & Flowers have served as an evergreen fount of warbled pop and jangled musings, but now they’re offering up something a bit more curdled than their catalog has harbored in the past. The debut single from Bons brings together a trio of UK players who’ve all found their niche in bands that buzz a bit more than they jangle. Here, as Bons, the trio, augmented with the addition of Aimée Henderson on the closer, land in a tussle between post-punk that’s been dented to remove the sharp corners and an almost pastoral sound that’s begs a bit of comparison to artists on Jewelled Anteler (not coincidentally a precursor to F&F as a label). The band opens the single with their noisiest bout — the crumpled and smeared “Steiner,” but things quickly calm from there. The rest of the EP hovers between the hypnogogic storybook psychedelia of Ghost Box releases and the unsettling ease of something like Blithe Sons. This isn’t pop by any stretch, but its just as fond of climbing under the skin. The record has a hard to pin endearing quality, warm like woolens but just as itchy in the same way.


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Morgan Delt

Stepping up to the big leagues, Morgan Delt makes the leap from Trouble in Mind to Sub Pop for his sophomore LP. The album’s still drenched in a psychedelic shimmer, though it become a more cohesive shine on Phase Zero than his more stitched together eponymous album. Delt seemed like an unlikely bump up from the psych underground. I liked his first tape and the album that grew out of it, but he’d felt like he was still finding his footing in those early recordings. He finds it well on Phase Zero, though, and to my delight he’s crafted something that runs better as an album than as individual tracks. As the label began to roll this one out in pieces, none of these hit hard. They weren’t particularly earworms or singles as such, but its when the whole picture comes into view that Delt’s prowess begins to take shape. The songs bleed into one another, creating a blurry and billowed tapestry of sound that’s immediately earnest in its psychedelic pursuit and engulfing in its longview approach.

Delt buries his vocals under a sea of echo and a dizzying world of kaleidoscope touches, painting with bright wide strokes and sketching in intricate details with a finer point. The album takes its cues from a host of 60’s nuggets that lean towards the pastoral and delicate; echoing bits of JK & Co., Millennium, Sagittarius and The Free Design while weaving some more intense moments through tracks like “Mssr. Monster” and “Sun Powers” that keep it headed into a proggier territory than might befit those touchstones. Its truly one of those albums that kicks an artist’s game up a notch, digesting the past and wearing a workbook of psych exploration on his sleeve, but still finding time to build something wholly his own in the process. Delt’s proven himself more than an imitator here and for any collector of psych gems, this stands as an excellent addition to any collection.

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Beautify Junkyards – Other Voices 08

Lisbon’s Beautify Junkyards follow up last year’s psych-pop odyssey The Beast Shouted Love with a single for Ghost Box’s increasingly intriguing “Other Voices” series. The eighth installment sees the Portuguese band trading in their familiar brand of pastoral psych – burbling beats, whispery vocals, music box ambience – and its a perfect fit for Ghost Box’s layered roster. The single is strong on both sides, the A-side is a gorgeous sunset melt of plucks and swirling synths made for sliding off the remains of the day. The flip is by turns more nocturnal, a secret world of forest folk adorned with ornaments of subtle psychedelic nuance and a loping beat. Its easy to see how Ghost Box could pull this one close, and I’d be unsurprised to see a full length from the band arrive on the label sometime in the future. Its the kind of release that feels like it might already be in their ranks. Solid as ever, the label is still leading the pack in consistency of psychedelic oddities these days.




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Kikagaku Moyo

I’ve had this one on rotation ever since it arrived and, even as a big fan of Kikagaku Moyo’s past catalog, its the most entrancing work they’ve done yet. The band’s work to date always found a delicate balance between subtlety and psychedelics, but here they tip the scales much further towards pastoral than ever before and the delicate touches pool their sound with a gorgeous coat of sheen. “Kogarashi,” the first taste of the album that slipped away early this year, still remains a highlight, winding fluid, traveling guitar passages with the lush cool air of cave echoed vocals. The band still pushes the amps into the fire now and again, but in the mold of some of the best simmering psychedlics, the moments that they hold back glow a bit brighter than the rest.

House In The Tall Grass shows the band’s familiarity with the softer side of the ’60s, and while there are notable touches of Japanese luminaries The Apryl Fool, Jacks and even later greats like Ghost, the band has called on a less obvious touchstone for inspiration, Bruce Langhorne’s soundtrack to The Hired Hand. If you’re not familiar, the reissue on Scissor Tail is a must for fans of country psych and acoustic guitar, not to mention psychedelic ’70s soundtracks. And though its more in line with Fahey, its not a stretch to see that its gentle ramble has a thumbprint here. The whole album has a subtle grey fog around it. Its got a cold and damp quality that echoes that lonesome traveling feeling.

Though don’t let that assessment fool you, the dampness and loneliness is by no means a deterrent, they are a celebration of sweet melancholy and Kikagaku Moyo is nailing the emotion on this album. The gorgeous folds of of House In The Tall Grass hang heavy and when the album does light those fires, they burn all that much brighter in contrast, then they’re all swept out in the morning by the gentle hum of closer, “Cardigan Song.” Its one of the best I’ve heard this year for sure and getting better with each listen.



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Kikagaku Moyo – “Kogarashi”

These guys caught my attention last year with a batch of reissues through Captcha and after a split single with Moon Duo they’re ramping up for a new Spring record, House In The Tall Grass for Tokyo psych label Guruguru Brain. The track, which translated means The Autumn Wind, is aptly named, with a kind of pastoral psych that recalls touches of The Zombies, The Apryl Fool and Pretty Things circa SF Sorrow. Shrouded in a veil of canyon echo the track burns with the last dying embers of firelight before sleep. The band have always had a knack for balancing a bit of fuzz burn with the lusher side of ’60s psychedelics adding up to songs that might not shred the skin but make for a slow burn in the long run, lending themselves to hidden gems with each new listen. It remains to be seen if the rest of House In The Tall Grass goes in for the fire or keeps it all as breezy as this but if they are keeping things mellow, this hints at a pretty phenomenal start.




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