Posts Tagged ‘Psych’

The Myrrors

For the past three years Arizona’s Myrrors have dug out a dusty psychedelic hovel in their corner of the American Southwest. The band’s third in a string of albums that each seem to build dizzying worlds dappled by psychedelic folk finds resolve in its own warring impulses. It boasts a political core that resonates in an era where borders cut down lives, where happenstance of heritage is twisted into birthright and where the notion of sanctuary has been pulled up at the roots. As much as ever the album leans on Miguel Urbina‘s viola to anchor the record’s heat and heart, fraying the impassible drones and rhythmic barriers sprung up over the album’s six tracks. The strings saw at the record with a wide-eyed insistence, as if the notes were found curdled in blood on the sand and Myrrors are merely decoding the pain let loose on the terrain.

When the flutes, showered in an echo that makes them move on month’s wings, dance with the strings then the album transitions from haunted pain to a leathered strength. The album highlight “Formaciones Rojas” is tattered and spattered by mud, but it dances with a fire in its eyes that pushes past appearances. It’s a moment when the album rises past fear and anguish to embrace cultural power in the face of a scale tipping further from the favor of the masses. The track ends with protesters chanting “We’ll be back,” It’s a rallying moment fueled by discontent that seems to galvanize, but its followed by songs that are more chaotic and less sure. “Biznagas” shoulders a heavy heart that feels parched and solemn and the seemingly resilient “Call For Unity” buzzes around in a storm of horns that are more disorienting and ridden with anxiety that unifying.

This all leads to the crusher of a climax, “Note From The Underground.” At almost twenty minutes, the sidelong séance attempts to harness both the anxious energy and the hardened strength into one giant wave of humanity. The song is full of the buzzing energy, often times hard to hack through with the nimblest ears, but the swirling strands become patterns that weave ropes to pull down the walls. There’s light at the end of Borderlands, but just like the real-life tangles it works to unwind it’s a tough road out to that light.



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Oh Sees

So, here we are at the crossroads again, another Oh Sees album has hit the table and its time to weigh in. I feel like most of these reviews run down as check in to say: “yeah Dwyer’s still a singular force in garage-psych and we should all be grateful.” There’s always some sonic shift worth noting, though, so here goes. After last year’s double bill, two album exploration of slippery psych, followed by an exorcism of their acoustic roots, the band is charging ahead heavier than ever. Don’t believe me, just check that cover. There’s a demon enshrined in fire. Things don’t get much heavier than that before you break out corpse paint and an organ made of bones. Sonically, Smote Reverser is pulled apart by rhythm, thanks in no small part to the double drum setup of Paul Quattrone and Dan Rincon. Naturally, as you can imagine, once you go double drum its time to get serious with the prog touches, and that’s just what the Oh Sees damn well do. They brought in Tom Dolas for some keys on last year’s mellow meltdown Memory of a Cut Off Head but this time he’s going full Keith Emerson with triple stack complexities that burn hot enough to iron that Yes patch on your threadbare denim vest.

To be sure, these touches all set the stage and dress things nice, but what were all here for is the 300-mph wormhole shred of John Dwyer and for that Smote Reverser does not disappoint. There’s plenty of acrobatic string slinging, punctuated by Dwyer’s now trademarked echoplex howl. His riffs bite at the void and dissolve into effects explosions that cascade through the speakers with a molten growl. The record’s not just heavy though, its nimble too – Dwyer plays guitar with a restless soul, seemingly amusing himself as much as us, the listeners. Still this isn’t the one note heavy hammer that the cover makes it out to be. It’s not all dry ice, devil horns and ear damage. While they turn up the screams to hardcore and bring down the heat on “Overthrown,” they just as easily knock the atmosphere down to simmer for the openings of “Last Peace” and “Moon Bog.” The band knows that without time to breathe, there’s no way to appreciate the sweat.

Without question its another quality Oh Sees LP and once more it seems the game is Dwyer trying to outdo himself with each record. So, as with every release that comes hurtling down from the psych asteroid the band occupies this is an essential addition of weight to your no doubt bursting Oh Sees section on the shelf. The heads already know and the rest better catch up or be left behind to soak in the Sulphur smoke trailing behind Smote Reverser.



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Mountain Movers – “This City”

Connecticut’s Mountain Movers are plowing back into the calamitous cloud of doom-psych that’s driven their feedbacker souls for the past few years. The first cut from the upcoming Pink Skies is a scorched-Earth flayer that proves yet again that few guitarists are touching the nebula of psych as feverishly as Kryssi Battalene. The song wades in hooded and hollowed but by the end Battalene brings a torrent of guitar evil down from on high, obliterating anything in her path with an apocalypse shred. Be warned, this is just a 3 ½ minute dose of what’s lurking on their upcoming LP. Hopefully the world’s ready to receive this psych reckoning with open arms.



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Forma

Brooklyn’s Forma follow their cosmic comedown album Physicalist from 2016 with the propulsive, glistening sounds of Semblance. On the last go ‘round the band split their impulses between sides. The opening half of the album embracing the skitter and propulsion of Krautrock given electronic tendrils. The back half, on the other hand, took a suite of songs down a much more Kosmiche road, spreading its attention between synth float, drone and free jazz. This time they’re not keeping the halves of their personality at arm’s length and in turn they create a layered retrofuturist pop album that’s just as likely to dazzle in plastic and glass refractions as it is to siphon the anxiety out of the room via meditative haze.

Its an extension of Physicalist to be honest, but the coherence here makes the last album seem like sketches for the more elaborate arc of Semblance. They weave the weapons of their psychedelic journey in a more articulate fashion this time. Ebbing and flowing in chapters, the album moves from synth scratched with sax through mechanical Zen, into a palpable play on technological anxiety and settles into lucid dreams that are almost too real. By the time the listener is entering “New City,” its hard to know if we can trust our own eyes or ears. The moment is refreshing, but also feels like one might be able to reach out and touch the elastic and static crinkle of VR film holding in this surreal serenity.

Somewhere there’s a film missing a solid score in this, and its definite highlight in the band’s catalog. There’s no lack of synth slingers who are aiming for the raised bar on Kosmiche clatter, but with Semblance Forma have come into their own. Even if you’ve tired of the dystopian drift and cosmic checkboxes that so many in this genre hit regularly, Forma have given these touchstones a new life and a reason to float out into the ether once more.





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Futuropaco

Somewhere in the future the spark of a great instrumental hip-hop record has been lit with the release of Futuropaco’s eponymous debut for the Danish label El Paraiso. The record, driven by Golden Void’s Justin Pinkerton, is doused in the drama of Italian Library Psych and Goblin soundtracks. It’s peppered through with the over-the-top, yet engrossing psychedelia that drove Jean Rollin’s best work and it could very easily have been disguised as a long-lost film score pushed out through Finders Keepers. It’s clear that Pinkerton has done his fair share of rifling through that particular catalog and has taken copious notes. Hell, they’re probably scribbled in the margins of a copy of David Hollander’s recently released Library retrospective, Unusual Sounds.

Worth noting, though, is Pinkerton’s background as a drummer as this adds a real streak of German Progressive punch to the record. While he’s steeped in the creepy atmospherics of the ‘70s Italians and twisted effects of French exploitation territory it’s that propulsive rhythm that keeps this record locked down and pushing harder than anything its emulating. The true classics of that era were tied to a hard edge that attracted beat fanatics, and Pinkerton’s vision of the sound skews this direction. His collector’s ear moves this well beyond just homage, though – with an alchemical attention on how to arrange psychedelic eras, Pinkerton, like his contemporaries Maston and Jon Brooks, has found a way to move the needle forward on Library psych. While, sadly, there’s no film digging into this particular well of instrumental goodness, it’s tempting to let the mind wander through Criterion-worthy scenarios drenched in technicolor and backed by Futuropaco’s psychedelic excess.



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Sundays & Cybele – “Unbalanced”

The good news from GuruGuru Brain continues to rain down in psychedelic sheets. Yesterday flagship band Kikagaku Moyo announced a new LP, but let it not overshadow news that labelmates Sundays & Cybele also have a new album on the way. The band’s fourth record, On The Grass is preceded by the echoplexed burndown of “Unbalanced.” Not to be outmatched by their fellow Japanese psych rumblers the track boasts plenty of guitar shred set to torch the town and walk away in slow motion menace. While the band boasts a heavier reliance on progressive tendencies this time around, “Unbalanced” is pure ‘70s freakout pulling from the ghosts of 13th Floor Elevators and Flower Travellin’ Band.



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Kikagaku Moyo – “Gatherings”

Some days just come blessed, like ones that deliver new material from Japanese psych masers Kikagaku Moyo. Their stop-gap EP from last year was enough to ebb the hunger for new material from this crew, but still fell short of the full album satisfaction they’re able to deliver. The first cut from the upcoming Masana Temples sounds right on track to expand consciousness and lift listeners on the strength of the band’s shimmering vibes and hothouse sweat. The group shacked up with Portuguese jazz musician Bruno Pernadas for production on this album, taking in the veteran’s altered perspective and applying it to their towering yet tender psychedelic tendencies. “Gatherings” runs the radar between glycerin guitars that trickle down in shimmering coils to a heavy prog singe that lays down third degree psychic burns via guitar pyrotechnics. It’s a damn fine introduction to the album that pushes the excitement for a new stunner to full tilt.




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Prana Crafter

Its already been a big year for Prana Crafter, with a stunning tape for Beyond Beyond is Beyond released around the first bend of 2018. Bhodi Cheetah’s Choice was draped in the hallmarks of great psych folk (think Relatively Clean Rivers recorded by Six Organs of Admittance), while pulling from the aesthetic traditions of masters like Amon Duul II and Trad Gras och Stenar. That release already made it into the top albums of the year when I ran down the first half tally, but its gonna have a hard time holding on as the Prana Crafter essential of ’18 with William Sol delivering a short-order follow up that cements his status as the new psych-folk class’ frontrunner. Enter The Stream hits just as hard as the tape that precedes it, digging deeper into the mossy wonderland of humid strums and heat warbled effects that drew me to Prana Crafter’s psychedelic vision. The LP seamlessly snakes between vocal and instrumental folk with an ear towards the grander scale, building a world over its forty-minute run.

The album, like some of the best of its genre(s) isn’t wholly interested in seeding your brain with standalone hooks. Instead the whole thing climbs in under the skin and takes root. There’s a darkness permeating Enter The Stream – quiet, lonesome, aching but never wholly consumed by the creeping dread. Its an album at one with the dark, thriving like mind-altering fungus on the dank corners the world forgot and reaching up towards the peeking light that filters down through the tree cover with a tentative curiosity. Sol knows his way around atmosphere and he wields it with the skill and scale of a cinematographer on the album.

He builds dread on tracks like “Mycorhizzal Brainstorm” then twists the knife on the ensuing “The Spell.” He balls up tension in the pit of the stomach on “Pillow Moss Absorption” then melts it all away with the orange-streaked closer “At The Dawn.” The album can’t be easily parsed, which I always find an endearing quality. Its not meant for part and parcel consumption, but rather it needs to be absorbed in full, preferably in low light with the weight of the day long behind the listener. If Sol was just teasing us with a release as high quality as Bhodi, then with Enter The Stream he proves that his legacy as a psychedelic force is well under way. This one’s an essential pickup for 2018 and only gets richer with each trip ‘round the table.




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Salt Lick – “Dirty Dream”

Another ripper out of the Permanent Records camp this week. Coming on like an MC5 fever dream, this b-side from Salt Lick’s debut 7” shakes the window panes until they beg for mercy. See-sawing on a monster riff, the track is muddied and murky but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t knock the wind out of you. Salt Lick rounds up members from the Permanent staff, but its more than just a bit of nepotism here – it seems that those curating the power of pummel can also deliver it just as well. This is scuzzy, crusted, exhaust huffing garage rock with no spit shine in sight. The band lets loose with the new single on Wednesday and precedes it with a hometown release show in LA, so if you’re West Coast centered you can experience the brutal beatdown in person.



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Garcia Peoples

As I’ve mentioned previously 2018 seems to be coming into its own with an embrace of the oft scorned jam band. What was once the butt of jokes among the more pretentious contingent of music cognoscenti has been given a legitimate platform. It helps that the genre has been rescued from some of the bro-y trappings that typically kept it down. While the new class still embraces the jam proper, they lean into the free boundaries aspect of the original rumblings of The Dead, rather than, say, the Guitar Center chest puffing and puca shell shambles of bands like Moe or Government Mule. In fact, it’s the embrace of the magic years of The Grateful Dead that seem most prescient, especially in a band named Garcia Peoples.

The New Jersey unit, naturally at home in the live setting, brings their sense of immediacy and experimentation into the studio. The record flickers like a living flame – warm and inviting, but able to scorch if given the chance. They’ve nailed the liquid runs of guitar that defined the Dead’s unifying embrace, while also bringing to mind the second-tier stunners like Mountain Bus, Mighty Baby or Fat. On Cosmic Cash’s centerpiece suite, though, they barrel out of the gate with guitars set to Trux and burn down the barn with little regard for the bystanders. Of course, it all smooths out to a buttery soul by the time they get to the end, with just a bit of a lyrical turn towards cringeworthy on “Cashing Out,” but if anyone was looking to elevate the legacy of Jam to something other than college freshman phase territory, its these guys.

The record is sun-streaked with positivity, and that feeling is utterly infectious. You’d be hard pressed to find a band working in the genre that would be called dour, but Garcia Peoples feel like they’re happiest spreading love via rippling riff. Their debut stands central to the new wave of American Jam and given time they’ll likely go down as a pivotal spark in new attitudes towards Cosmic Americana. For now, though, this is just the perfect companion to ride out the tail of Summer. Drop the needle, fill your drink and let the cooldown shake of Garcia Peoples free your soul.



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