Posts Tagged ‘Psych’

Kandodo – “King Vulture”

Bristol trio Kandodo, which features Simon Price (The Heads) and John McBain (Monster Magnet, Desert Sessions), return to the fold this week with the announcement of their latest album, K3. The first cut is a floating bit of drone shimmer that’s buoyed by a serene video by Sanae Yamada (Moon Duo, Viva La Void). “King Vulture” builds on a slow creep of quasar-crusted euphoria that crushes itself slowly over the course of six and a half minutes of bliss. Check the video above and keep an eye out for the band’s latest on Rooster Rock June 21st.

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Les Rallizes Denudes + BE – ‘There’s No Heaven Like Hell’

Among the ranks of Japanese psych, one of the top takers for mythical status is Les Rallizes Denudes. Pinning down just what they were and how the noise unit operated is tricky. The band issued no official albums, though they played live for decades starting in ’67 at Kyoto University and centering on the works of enigmatic frontman Takashi Mizutani. Drawing inspiration from The Velvet Underground they took up originally as an accompaniment to theater performances, but quickly outgrew that status due to the volume and ferocity of their works overshadowing the performers. Like VU they aren’t a band that operated in one given box, and depending on the era and configuration they’d range from strummed and serene to amplifier fried chaos. The band’s status grew mostly outside of their country with stories of their intangible performances, members gone rogue (original bassist Moriaki Wakabayashi was involved in a Red Army plane hijacking in 1970) and their subsequent self-exile until the ‘90s.

The band’s catalog is mostly live performances that tumbled out of a rogue’s gallery of labels over the years, each in odd quantities that made them enviable to come across in the ‘90s and ‘00s. The pinnacle of their output might arguably be ’77 Live, but other great pockets in their catalog exist to be pored over as well. One such inclusion is a collaboration with experimental collective Be (also known as Yellow) who were headed by keyboardist/guitarist Taisuke Morishita. The original 2xCD issue included more material, but this LP on Alternative Fox centers on the two versions of the title track recorded at the band’s house in Fussa, outside of Tokyo. The first version is a pulsating drone of guitar and synth, zoned out and dropped via VHF to furthest reaches of psychic caverns of the mind.

The second version breaks the seal on bucolic peace for some heavier froth and fizz from the outset, sweeping across the speakers in extraterrestrial pulses. While the first version remains rooted in guitar and keys, droning into the ether, the second brings in the full band. Mizutani and the band lock in the rhythm, tearing at the fabric of reality in the way only LRD could. Though there are no official versions of the band, this setup was one worthy of documentation and its nice to see this pop up on vinyl. Its not always easy to get a hand on an LP of Denudes’ work so I’d say when you see it, it’s best to cop one.



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Djinn

Formed by members of Hills and Goat, and adopting the latter’s proclivity for obscuring identities, Djinn inhabits a style that’s no less psychedelic than its member’s usual haunts, but winds up more experimental than either. Djinn’s debut embraces the free jazz pyrotechnics of Albert Ayler and Don Cherry while also finding solace in the more meditative and serene end of the freeform universe – echoing the haunted ashram of Alice Coltrane and the metaphysical forces of Sun Ra. The band is named after mythical beings – not quite angels, not quite devils – but rather forces of mystery that confuse the senses and play upon the mystical nature of reality. This gives the spirits a bit more agency than their one-dimensional counterparts with qualities that can work towards evil or good. Its as apt a moniker as any for a band that’s cloaked in mystery and seeking to work through noise and nature alike.

The pair weaves through this blend of abrasion and bliss without finding the poles at odds with one another. They achieve a groove that approaches infectious on “My Bankaccount,” then burn down the buoyancy with the following five minutes of improv float and free-associated mumbling of “Rertrand Bussels.” If anything, that track name might be indicative of the only real downside here, the cheeky nature of the titles is sometimes distracting from the disquieting din. Then again, taking oneself too seriously has just the same off-putting effect, so why not slap “Djinn and Djuice” on the title of a song built on sax skronk, a menacing piano totter, and skittering percussion? The record works well in the abstract styles the band seeks to emulate, and while not necessarily coming close to the masters themselves, it serves as more than just mere distraction from the players’ full-time tenures. I’m hoping this isn’t just a passion piece one-off, because it feels like there’s more to grow on here. For now, fans of the freer end of the psychedelic spectra have something to dig into all the same.



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SUSS – “Chisholm Trail”

Adding to the cosmic conversation, NY’s Suss molds lysergic instrumentals threaded through with a country calm and rippled with serenity. The band is grafting aquamarine slides and tear-jerked guitars to the radiant shimmer and ambient float of synths, creating a hybrid of William Tyler’s country pickers and Boards of Canada’s otherworldly ambiance. On the A-side to their upcoming single, “Chisholm Trail,” the band heralds their arrival with mournful harmonicas that seem to indicate a Morricone twang is imminent before melting like moonlight into warbling tones, buttery pedal steel, and galloping strums. The track’s about as meditative as they come, with just a touch of bittersweet on the back end, making this one easy to absorb before it slips away into the night on the edges of pre-dawn fog. The new single arrives June 28th from Northern Spy.




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Olden Yolk

On their sophomore album Olden Yolk solidify their folk-pop sound, edging in a touch more of the soft-focus psychedelia that graced their first while embracing the rhythmic pulse pounding under their gauzy glow. The band shares a great deal in common with Shane Butler’s former haunt in Quilt, but they’re drawing deeper into the damp depths of ‘60s psych than Quilt’s sunny veneer ever let on. With this new album they’re picking up similarities to Sunforest, Euhoria, and Sapphire Thinkers giving their sound a lushness that’s even more present than the last outing. Like bygone autumnal strummers Ultimate Painting, they’re burrowing into melancholy with a wholeheartedness that reverberates throughout Living Theater. This doesn’t land them in the bell jar, but perhaps perches them just adjacent, making charcoal sketches of said jar to send to pen pals who sigh like they sigh.

In fact, autumnal is the wrong word, if anything Olden Yolk are vernal and all the better for the May release of their latest record. They oscillate between streaks of rain and scattered beams of sun in mercurial moments between the album’s ten tracks. The best songs here (and its hard to choose) embrace both halves of their split souls. “Grand Palais” is a particular stunner, edging into the light on tip-toes but heading into its skid spinning ‘round and ‘round until the air becomes dizzy. “Cotton and Cane” is the band at their most pop, pinning poetry on loss to a careening crackle and a perfect vocal dance between the leads.

The songs take on their heaviest cloak when Caity Shaffer steps up to the microphone, though. Soft flutes and a gentle nudge of bass huddle behind her while she croons contemplatively on “Distant Episode,” the song palpably drizzling with tenderness. She’s equally heartbreaking on “Castor and Pollux,” a haunting tale of indecision and loss. The air of duality remains a glorious constant on Living Theater the singers’ intertwined voices and the bittersweet vibes following the tides between joy and sadness like the soft quiver of a diaphragm before weeping. The debut was an excellent introduction, but with album number two, Olden Yolk plead to be on your list of 2019 essentials.



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Clinic

Has it really been seven years since Clinic was last seen creeping around the turntable? It appears so. After the band’s last outing, which saw them collaborating with Oneohtrix’ Daniel Lopatin, they return to a more familiar form, riding the raw snap of their familiar spooked psych-blues once more. The title of Wheeltappers and Shunters is likely lost on most US audiences, as it references a mid-70s British Variety series that hasn’t aged particularly well. The jocular program represents a time that, while often reminisced as the golden age of culture, actually rounds out to a cringing normalization of racial stereotype caught on tape and misogyny run rampant. The show is essentially the UK version of Hee-Haw (minus the country music) as far as I can tell, and as much as that’s likely a fond familial memory for some here, it’s as much a cultural black mark for everyone else.

The band works the album into a kind of inverse Village Green Preservation Society, holding up the sunny charms of the past to the magnifying lens of 2019 and looking for the dirt in the cracks. As much as both the UK and US have found sweeping waves of nostalgic nationalism in the wake of MAGA/Brexit culture, this is a necessary knock to the heads of the rally crowds looking to hearken back to some sort of perceived greatest generations. They pin their body politic to some progressive visions of the Clinic sound as well – stretching out to the ethereal embers on “Flying Fish,” and mining menacing prog on the fizzing closer “New Equations (at the Copacabana)”. The band’s bubbling through lava and lye on “Ferryboat of the Mind,” while they return to the classic pendulum swing swagger of their old days on “Congratulations.”

The record is indeed a dark depiction of nostalgia – panicked, preserved, and packaged for a future generation to find and ponder. They don’t look back on the transgressions of their predecessors lightly, just as our own heirs should not. While (somewhat ironically) fans nostalgic for classic Clinic will find something to love here, the band’s fusing much of the drive from their more experimental later years with the propulsive pop that locked ‘em on your college dial. It’s a new chapter in the history of the psych swamp and a rather welcomed return.



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Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation

On their third album Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation embrace wider scope of psychedelia, pushing their lush sound into swirls of hypnotic repetition, languid guitar bliss, silken slow jams, lock-top blues grooves, and a psych-pop shimmer. Having relocated from Stockholm to London, Öhrn and her writing partner in the band Fredrik have teamed up with a cadre of locals to fill out the sound and the new direction is even more polished than their previous incarnation. There’s still a haze hanging over them, but now they’ve added a certain color-saturated oblivion that occasionally feels more comfortable on a towering club sound system than it would from the stage. While this tangent starts out with a pocket full of of Moon Duo, Spacemen 3 galactic dust, they push much further into festival fodder than occasionally benefits their sound. This shift is most readily apparent on “I Can Feel It” and “Desire,” which might have worked better as a 12” pairing, chafing slightly, but still manage to hang on without completely pushing the record off the rails.

Thankfully they pull back the throttle and suck a little serotonin out of the room for cuts that are more about floating in the ether than about transcendence through dance. The sustained tones and spiritual lilt to “Only Lovers” is right out of the Spiritualized playbook and Öhrn pulls off the J Spaceman gravitas with grace. They follow that with another groover that’s a touch more lysergic than your average big budget blues workout, finding room to choogle through the cosmos on “Baby Come On.” Öhrn’s ability to hang her voice on the air like cloud cover is one of her greatest assets and she drapes the dew over much of the second half of the album. She slides out of the euphoric mania of the beginning of the LP for an extended comedown that’s gorgeous, lush, and radiating a shimmer that’s become their signature sound.

All in, the record’s a nice progression from their early echoplex embryo, and it doesn’t let itself stagnate on a sound too long. While a bit of the pop impulses are interesting, too much looses her sense of bliss. When the band’s carving out decadent dreams made of sound, they’re unmatched as far as most of their psych-pop contemporaries are concerned. This feels like a watershed moment for the band before they carve over into the territory earmarked for the Tame Impala, Hookworms, or Temples. Feel free to get to know ‘em now.



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Psychedelic Speed Freaks

After resurrecting High Rise’s sonic assault II from the cataloged caverns of PSF, Black Editions gives fans of guitarist/ear drum antagonist Munehiro Narita another treat with the issue of his revamped trio Psychedelic Speed Freaks’ eponymous LP. When the band first rolled out, High Rise dubbed themselves Psychedelic Speed Freaks, originally counting Narita with Masashi Mitani, Asahito Nanjo, and Ikuro Takahashi among the ranks. Presumably the name was an homage to the record label they’d eventually claim as a home, but the label thought the name was a little too on the nose once they were signed on board, hence the swap to High Rise. The switch back to their old handle doesn’t change much about the direction of the band’s sound. Still anchored by Narita’s “motorcycle fuzztone” guitar, the record is perched in the red and not looking to relent. David Jasso steps up on bass this time around and also adds in a dose of Lemmy-indebted vocals that scrape and strain to push themselves over the top of the cyclone assault of guitar and drums.

Straddling the lay lines between psych, metal, trash, and doom, the band creates a punishing document for 2019 that expands on the dynamic that Narita and Asahito Nanjo crafted and damn near perfected over their initial run. It’s easy to imagine that there are plenty of newer volume feeders out there who never got the chance to experience High Rise in their paint-melting prime, so Psychedelic Speed Freaks seek to right a wrong and bring more joyous noise to the universe both (barely) between the grooves here and in the live setting. From all accounts they tore the doors off of Black Editions’ Festival last month and hopes are on that they keep it up with more dates. The kind of heat that this thing is putting out hasn’t been much matched of late, with perhaps the exception of Feral Ohms, who’ve always seemed to be heirs apparent to High Rise.

Goes without saying that if you’re a High Rise fan, this one’s essential. Honestly, if the term Japanese psych gives you any goosebumps this one should already be on your shelf. It’s a total crusher in every sense of the term.




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75 Dollar Bill – I Was Real

If you missed out on 2016’s highly underrated Wood/Metal/Plastic/Pattern/Rhythm/Rock from 75 Dollar Bill, then this seems like the perfect time to jump onto the band’s sound. Melding the current free-jam inclinations of improv live sets with a guitar sound that picks at the kind of Haino/Akiyama boogie blended with West African blues, the band has long been a singular entity on the scene. They’ve just announced a new ripper for Thin Wrists / Black Editions and prefaced it with a portion of the album’s title track, “I Was Real”. This time around the duo of Che Chen and Rick Brown are joined by a larger ensemble that wrangles in eight additional players, adding to the desert blues vibes of communal playing for social spaces. Check the trance lockdown into burner blues vibes in the video below and look out for the new LP June 28th.



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Jacco Gardner – Fading Cosmos 12″

Jacco Gardner’s last album, while still quite steeped in the seeds of psychedelia, was a departure of sorts. It served as a complete instrumental journey that echoes the type of synth-heavy psych and prog that inhabited the Harvest label, the more cosmic side of the ‘70s German underground, and pastoral Swedish psychedelia. Along with those sessions Gardner recorded two songs that didn’t seem to quite fit with the overarching journey and now they being released as a 12” called Fading Cosmos. The title track still follows the album’s thrust of burbling synths and lilting guitar melancholia, but there’s not as much buzzing of the MS20 that drove his direction on Somnium.

Rooted in the idea that artificial light is slowly eroding our ability to observe cosmic occurrences, the song wafts into a quivering dream state that’s almost unsettling in the ease of its embrace. Hazy, and rocking on a lullaby beat, the song slowly hypnotizes the listener into a meditative bliss while the organ sketches soft penlight patterns on the eyelids. Along with the flip, “Autumn in Lisbon,” the release makes a nice compliment to Somnium‘s synthedelic themes. The new EP out June 14th from Full Time Hobby.



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