Posts Tagged ‘Psych’

CAVE

Though they’ve often ebbed and flowed over the years, parceling out their revered releases to a fanbase happy to put some rhythmic ripple in their daily dose of psychedelia, Allways feels like a true high point for CAVE. Cooper Crain has been infinitely busy, splitting time between production credits and the cosmic float of Bitchin’ Bajas, but CAVE’s hold proves too strong and he’s obviously loath to let the band lose their yoke on the pounding pulse that beats beneath the psych heart eternal. With this album they perfect the bio-mechanical motion that’s worked the wheels of CAVE’s core for years, keeping just enough of the motorik menace that’s marked their everlasting Krautrock itch and synthesizing it into a much looser slink. The album fishhooks a South American psych groove alongside ‘70s jazz-funk flutes, toasting them ever so gently in the mountain sun before dropping the hot rock down onto double tape deck speakers for a lap around the park.

Crain and his cohorts prove they know how to splice quasar-crusted ambience with the cosmic slop of funk, barreling out of the bunker like a 300 lb hippie who’s surprisingly light on his feet. This is what the whole hep world would be listening to if Santana and Azimuth replaced every pimpled teen’s Zeppelin obsession. There’s something to be said for an album that could easily fuel the soundtrack of ‘70s Scorsese and at the same time tune up the geodesic domes of the best hippy commune. CAVE has found their formula with this record. Whatever deep dives into the bins Crain and co. have been doing over the last couple of years is paying off nicely. The band had exhausted their search for a new take on the German Progressive niche they’d been exploring since their formation and with the gamble to dose the psych with a heaping helping of wah and wobble they’ve created their best album to date.

Something tells me that CAVE purists might split opinions on the new direction. While the band still has a hand on the cosmic tiller – tunneling through space echo wormholes on “Dusty” and stomping the “flame on” guitar gusto for “Beaux,” the record almost feels like its made by a different band. To me, that’s admirable. That’s the essence of evolution. To some, that might be heresy, but screw the psych luddites, this album was made to burn and if there’s anything you need to have stuck in your car stereo for the next few months, its Allways.

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Mountain Movers

Still the headiest thing rolling out of New Haven, if not the rest of the Northeast, Mountain Movers new album sees the Connecticut four-piece perfect their brand of heatwave psychedelia. Pink Skies works swimmingly as a companion to last year’s eponymous LP, extending their reach towards the heart of the sun and exemplifying the unrestrained heat of their live sets. Though the band doesn’t revel in nearly enough fanfare for their cathartic cache of six previous mind-flayers, their scorched n’ singed delivery should have this climbing to the top of psych heads’ most anticipated releases. Guitarist Kryssi Battalene is funneling an overdose of ozone-toasted radiation through the speakers, distorting reality with a sonic sweep across every section of a listener’s brain. She’s quite easily one of the most ferocious guitarists working and it’s about high time she got some accolades to that effect.

The band rides the knife edge between psychedelic euphoria and an acid bath of noise with the noise often blotting out the sun to gain the edge in the tussle. Though, the record isn’t constantly set to singe, the Mountain Movers’ ability to work between back-alley menace, haunted forest anxiety and blast furnace freakout is enviable to say the least. The record is vibrating with enough sinister swamp energy to levitate any listener a good three inches from the floor, which is some feat for a band from the concrete caverns dotting the Northeastern nape of eternal sprawl. When Battalene lays into a riff, which is more often than not, the record explodes into an aural oblivion, both terrifying and ecstatic. These are the moments when the band sparks to an electric life.

The album taps into a classic vein of ‘90s psych – tough outer shell housing a blissful core – and Mountain Movers should dredge up sense memories for fans of Bardo Pond, Major Stars or early Sonic Youth. Like those acts, the Connecticut crew build a towering sound that feels impenetrable until you stop fighting and let the record envelop the brain. At this point, seven albums in, there should be little doubt that the band knows how to wield riff and ravage, but just in case you needed a reminder, Pink Skies topples pretty much all 2018 contenders to prove the point.



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Charalambides – “Proper”

There are no real applicable labels for the medium in which Charalambides operate in. Like fellow Northeast luminaries Tower Recordings they’re rooted in psych and folk if you want to simplify, but you probably shouldn’t. They’re rooted in traditions of experimental songform and quite often delving into drone, but they typically tap into something ‘other’ and intangible. There’s a primal nature to their music that’s always felt like rites, spirituals without the burden of carved beliefs. This side of their songwriting is on full display on “Proper,” the latest peek into their upcoming eponymous LP. Over spectral tones the band’s Christina Carter intones high and holy, vibrating on a sympathetic tone with heavy metals in the surrounding soil. She cries for the Earth’s scars as if she can feel its pain.

The band’s Tom Carter expands on their process, confessing that the band “considers songs not as layers, but as stark utterances of elemental figures, the voids those figures define, and the unnamable emotions with which our minds fill the emptiness. Notes emphasize the silences between, loops pry apart tonal intervals, ghost-filled spaces open and slowly freeze shut as they fade to distant crackles. ‘Proper’ embodies all of these elements.” The new album is such a heavy, meditative piece that its hard to pry it apart into pieces, but “Proper” is a good entry point for the cosmic traveler. For the true Charalambides experience, the band is also taking this record on the road. Prepare to be ground into dust listeners East Coasters / Midwest settlers.

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David Nance Group

Takes a lotta balls to rock a song called “Ham Sandwich” and totally nail it, but that kinda sums up the spirit of The David Nance Group. Nance, the Omaha harbinger who’s been issuing under the radar platters for Grapefruit and BaDaBing, has now walked on over to perennial powerhouse Trouble In Mind to issue his best slab yet. Peaced and Slightly Pulverized is straddling two visions of the ’70 like a man stuck between realities. In one, Nance is the hard-touring divination of Crazy Horse crashing through covers of Keiji Haino’s smolder strewn catalog. Slip through the mirror, though, and Nance could easily have been sweating pre-dawn unease with the erratic art punks of Pere Ubu and MX-80. What works well about him is how he reconciles the two poles of his personality. His sound is born of the dirt, with Rust Belt angst built in its bones, but he never gets so far from the concrete that the open air lets down his hackles.

The album glows like coals building heat at the bottom of a fire and there’s no telling when its about to throw sparks hard in your direction. Nance’s delivery is haunted, hounded, and hungry. He howls like a man stricken and wronged, he growls like an animal wounded by life and lashing out at those who’d foolishly try to corner him. In equal measure his guitar shapes sonic fury into rusted tangles of heavy heat that scream out in their own perfect anguish. While he’s channeling the ozone huffing delivery of the art punks pinned down in the city, he alchemizes their zeal into lyrics that reflect the broken edges of town rather than the college centers. He’s a destroyer come to reconcile with the gods of blight and heaven help those caught in the crossfire.

While he’s had an erratic past, slinging between Omaha and the West Coast, scratching out full album covers of past classics and then finding himself battling legal notices to let them live online, this is Nance at his core. This is the most focused and ferocious he’s been to date and gods willing it’ll be the beginning of a scorched-earth run of albums that light up heads across the land.




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Goatman on Robert Fripp / Carlos Garnett

When Goat’s World Music found its way out I was immediately smitten, and certainly not alone it would seem. The album has marked many lists over the years and serves as the jumping off point for Goat’s dense catalog of borderless psychedelia. Now, with a solo album of Afro-funk rhythms and psych-folk freakouts of his own on the schedule I asked the band’s shrouded Goatman to weigh in on some overlooked fodder from the past. While the feature usually focuses on one album, there are, in fact, no rules to Hidden Gems. With that Goatman unearthed two gems from his past that he found intrinsically linked in space and time and by proximity of discovery. With that in mind he explores the impact of Robert Fripp’s League of Gentlemen and Carlos Garnett’s Black Love.

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Lavender Flu – Follow The Flowers

One of this year’s sorely overlooked gems was the sophomore LP from Lavender Flu. The band tightened up their sound and delivered an album of excellently psych splattered garage pop. If perhaps this one got a way from you, then now’s the time to go back and right some wrongs. The band’s sparkling, soaring song “Follow The Flower” has been adorned with a suitably psychedelic video that pulses with light and color. Check in with the visual treat and then head over to In The Red for the full experience.

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Mythic Sunship

While Another Shape of Psychedelic Music might not radically reinvent its own genre the way Coleman did for jazz, or upend possibilities quite as much as The Refused did for punk, their latest for El Paraiso is an immersive and writhing organic beast that certainly reconfigures their own sound enough to warrant the wink on that title. The band’s Land Between Rivers was a stunner, raining down brimstone blasts of doom and psych in equal measures, charring pretty much everything in its wake to a carcinogenic crisp. On last year’s Upheaval, though, they got dense, maybe wandering a bit to far into their own heads and leaving the listener without the spark of unpredictability and terrifying edge-of-reality playing that marked their earlier release. They’re stoking the embers of that fire once again, though, on Another Shape and it feels good to see the madness back in their eyes.

The band incorporates free jazz and a heavier stroke of prog into their usual mix of doom, psych and motorik German references here. Saxophone splashes over every inch of the record, and the frantic squalls fit right into their particular maelstrom. From an opening cut that pushes past the fourteen-minute mark, to their skronk-greased breakdowns, it’s an album that’s not working off of any preconceived set of expectations. They’re playing purely to torch the turrets on their personal temples, channeling the heat of the blaze into a set that radiates genesis and destruction like never before.

The howl of sax seems to have awakened something in them and its great to have one of Scandinavia’s rawest units back in fine form. The record boasts some guidance from label co-head and Causa Sui member Jonas Munk. His production, along with the searing third guitar he’s lent to their gauntlet gives the album a lot of its vibrancy. There have been a lot of great psychedelic records this year, but Another Shape of Psychedelic Music is steadily pushing its way to the top of the pile. It may not be the shape of psych to come, but it’s definitely among the best shapes 2018 could ask for.



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Design Inspiration: Darryl Norsen

I’m excited to get back to a feature here at the site that takes a closer look at the designers behind the album art that adorns so many of my recent favorites. As much as any other part of the full album experience, good art draws a listener in and cinches the argument on owning the physical package. In the past this series has explored works from Robert Beatty, Jason Galea, and El Praraiso’s Jakob Skøtt. This week I’m shining a light on Darryl Norsen. You’ve most likely encountered Norsen’s work on excellent show posters, or in graphics for Raven contemporaries Aquarium Drunkard’s Talk House and Laginnappe series. Those of you winding down the extended path of Dead reissues would likely also have seen his work in recent Jerry Garcia & Merl Saunders reissues and 75th Birthday materials. Norsen’s crisp type work and clean lines have also found their way into excellent albums from Beyond Beyond is Beyond, Three Lobed and No Quarter Records. As usual with this series, I asked Darryl to explore his own favorite sleeves and recount how they may have shaped his own approach to design.

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Kikagaku Moyo

On their latest album for GuruGuru Brain, Kikagaku Moyo have dug deeper into their psychedelic soul than ever before. The album, produced with Portuguese jazz musician Bruno Pernadas, still weaves their appreciation for psych-folk, spiritual ambience, sitar breakdowns and deluges of guitar, but adds a newfound spaciousness and attention to groove that pushes Masana Temples to the top of their catalog. The band’s last album was awash in pastoral hues, and while it often lit the match on psychedelic burdowns, the remainder of the album rooted itself in a crisp coolness. The aptly titled House in the Long Grass evoked the lush countryside and the solace of verdant spaces. While some of that aspect still remains on their proper follow up, there’s an indelible sense of the city and humanity’s hum present in the mix this time.

Perhaps part of this arises from the band members putting space between themselves, thus necessitating entry to the clockwork coercion of city environs. The mournful lilt of “Orange Peel” and the lonesome slink “Nazo Nazo” capture a sense of traveling – echoing loneliness among a hive of constant activity. As the members work their ways back towards one another the modern world inevitably creeps up to try to reclaim them. The band, however, slips through with the steadied pace of cosmic travelers straight out of a Jodorowsky vision. They seem to radiate a utopian bubble of classic ’70s psychedelia that wards off the technological tangle all around us. The record bends creative restlessness into an organic set of songs that breathe with tension, elation, and as usual, ferocious catharsis. When they flick the flint to flame on “Nana” and “Gatherings” its with purpose, burning down the modern marvels to reveal the old temples beneath.

Perndas, it appears, shares their interest in lending immediacy to a recording, with the band working in one or two takes, even if it means the song isn’t note perfect. Not that Kikagaku Moyo are sloppy, but the imperfections lend even more weathering to their vintage air, conjuring up communal psych communities more attuned to the trip than concerned with the token of a pristine recording. Kikagaku Moyo perked many ears with Forest of Lost Children, positioned themselves at the top of Tokyo’s psychedelic circuit with House in the Long Grass and now they cinch their pedigree with Masana Temples. If somehow you’ve missed out on the band up ’til now, this is the perfect moment to come on board.



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Slift

At this point it might be said that Thee Oh Sees are a genre unto themselves. The psych-scratched garage rock, punctuated by John Dwyer’s echoplexed howl is a calling card of their frantic punk pedigree. As such, its hard not to immediately think of them whenever a band wades into their particular sonic jungle. Whether a new artist is expanding the sound or not, its always going to immediately shift the brain to comparisons with San Francisco’s untethered heroes. Same goes for Animal Collective, I suppose. There are just a few indie bands today that have nailed their milieu and no matter how universal some of their underlying influences are, they own their sound. With that said, its hard not to feel the specter of Dwyer looming over La Planète Inexplorée, the debut album from French quasar-punks Slift.

The album lifts off from the same platform of heavy, syncopated riffs and psych freakouts, even executing Dwyer’s caustic creep vocal patterns. However, they’re working well to try to make their own mark in in the heavy tank treads left behind by SF’s favorite sons. The trio takes the frizzle fry to some excellent heights, drops in some icy flute to creep up the spine and works out their best motorik impulses all over this platter. The record’s burrowed deep into a subterranean cave ambience, feeling like an otherworldly accompaniment to sci-fi wonderlands parched by desert heat and strange magic.

The LP brings to mind the harsh yet vivid worlds built into the comic works of Rick Remender – complicated vistas full of wonder that are often just as deadly as they are breathtaking. The deeper the record goes, the more the band begins to swirl the heavy smoke and smolder that permeates the mind. Divorced from its most obvious influence, its a spot on psych record that’s clearly built by skillful players with a tendency to push their songs as far as possible to the outer reaches of fuzz and froth. The band proves that their initial EPs were no fluke and makes it clear that they belong in the expansive arms of a well thought out full length. Perhaps as they soldier on the band will evolve their sound and hone in on what separates them from their looming shadows.



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