Posts Tagged ‘Psych’

Prana Crafter

While there may be a lot going on (even while there’s nowhere to go) that’s no reason not to focus in on the head zone these days. In the midst of global pandemic, there’s been a wealth of new music from RSTB fave Prana Crafter — from tapes to streams, and it begs lower light and a deep dive into the embryonic abyss. First, as a part of an excellent drop of albums from Null Zone Tapes, which also included one from Rootless, Curanderos, and Khoutek, Will Sol inhabits the cosmic cloud on two sidelong tracks. The first cut nudges into Terry Riley territory – amorphous and numbing in a wonderful way before it begins to take shape from the dust with ripples and riffs that let the mind wander interdimensionally for at least a few minutes. As the listener is lead out of the stasis haze, Sol filters in a touch of organ and acoustic playing that brings us all back to our senses. The visions that floated to the surface during the sensory depravation of the first 10-12 minutes fade away, but footing is still a bit spongey at best. Things turn much darker on the second side, and a whole lot less serene.

With a riff that sounds like Sabbath, or Amon Düül II filtering over the hills (its hard to pin down through the tempest winds that seem to blow up), Sol begins a more scorched approach on “Eye Closed Inner Thunder.” The song quivers in an unseen gale, but it seems defiant in the face of nature — screaming into the void and lashing itself to the mast. The two pieces, while nothing alike in tone give the impression of two halves of a whole. The first is bliss, ignorant or otherwise, and overwhelming calm. The second is the voice inside that told you to panic and the rage that bubbles beneath the surface come calling for a visit. Though neither of those feeling overwhelm the second piece by the end. Sol tame the tempest with a flurry of acoustic strums that match up with some of his best.

If this hits you right and you’re in the mood for more Crafter then I’d recommend heading over to Youtube to check out a set Will did from home that lays out some new material — comprised of the bulk of a new album he’s working on for Cardinal Fuzz/Feeding Tube later in the year along with few embellishments. Definitely an engrossing 30-min set for any night you need to hit the zone. Side note on the Null Zone releases as well — all proceeds from digital sales for this album will be donated to the Garrie Vereen Memorial Emergency Relief Fund organized by Nuçi’s Space in Athens, GA. The set is pay as you wish, but keep that in mind as you checkout.





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Ash & Herb

Maine duo Ash & Herb (Ash Brooks and Matt Lajoie) have been incubating a haven of psyco-delic bliss in the Northeast for sometime. Under their Flower Room imprint they’ve housed releases by both Matt and Ash solo, combined, meditating as Starbirthed and interspersed into different tessellations of the two — with focuses ranging from Kosmiche to folk. When combined, and flying under the Ash & Herb banner, the results can vary stylistically. Their last single hit on a Cosmic Americana choogle that was well received around here. Perhaps someday they’ll return to the grooved graces of that particular valley, but for “Roughin’ It” they travel outward, into the gaseous ether that clings loosely to this Terra Firma.

The pair recorded the bulk of the album live in spaces around New England and it showcases them pushing their improvisational itch into the furthest reaches of headspace harmony. The album kicks in with two tracks that buzz with a writhing energy — insistent hum n’ thrum that resolves into cosmic glances. They soften the approach as the record works its way in, not quite finding breezy but settling on a swayed hiss for “Mudra of Creation.” The song, and really the record on the whole, has a raw quality to it. There’s a vulnerability that feels like it hovers between bootleg live lightning and homegrown private press goodness. The playing is untethered, yet fluid. The band’s not wrong to label some of the nodes here Frippian in their approach and we’re all at the benefit of the mutable magic that takes place over the extent of this tape.

Highlight “Ascension Tea” rides the invisible airwaves through the small bones of the skull, reverberating the senses and looking to lock down the lysergic energy that we all need to get us through the day/week/month at hand. The sounds slip through the soil of our consciousness feeding the soul with a refreshing dose of damp psychedelics and free zone simmer that’s vital when the air fogs with spring’s sop. While this would all be a bounty on any day, Matt and Ash don’t let the spring run on just this release alone. Alongside this they offer up a new EP from Ash that’s every bit the equal to the zones traversed here and a bevy of outtakes too. Plus a stash of Herbcraft sketches that give context to Wot Oz while standing up well on their own. Check the label’s site and get digging into all that they have to offer. Stream the whole album below before it’s out tomorrow.



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Woods

Following 2017’s healing hand that was Love Is Love, Woods return changed, as we all are, but still mining the same mercurial magic that’s always surrounded them. While the last album dealt with finding optimism in the face of crushing disappointment (2016 in a nutshell), Strange To Explain has the benefit, or rather the burden, of having lived in the world a few more years since the bottom fell out. The band spent time growing— nurturing family and the label — and now they return with an album that’s tender, but also bruised. That yearning optimism that surrounded Love Is Love has tempered into a wistful reservation. They’re still looking to spread that love, but Woods seem to understand that it can feel hard to find a foothold on the ladder out of our low points these days. Likewise, despite the inclination there might to lash out, the record lacks the rhythmic turbulence that drove City Sun Eater In The River of Light. In its place there’s a contentedness underlying the album, the feeling that while the outer universe might spin out of control, our own nuclear worlds can still be a center of peace.

There’s some worry too, how could there not be? It melts for the most part, though, under Earl and co’s radiant glow. The band’s been refining their sound for years, and each new album adds a layer of lush comfort that solidifies them as leading their folk peers while constantly existing outside of any established models. Woods and Woodist are inseparable and the community that they’ve built around themselves shimmers through on Strange To Explain. The communal vibes of the label’s namesake festival are threaded through the album. The harmonies hug close. The instruments blend in watercolor coolness.

Don’t let the smooth taste take away the band’s bite, though. The headiness that positions them high atop the list of bands who can knock the hell out of a live set pokes out from under the lacquered veneer. Album closer Weekend Wind, pushes the album out of its sun-in serenity and into a few gnarled grooves that catch the Cosmic Americana wind. “Fell So Hard,” feels like it might lend itself to ten-minute extension once the amps are warm and humming. There are probably few who need an introduction to what Woods are about at this point, but if you need a reminder of why they’ve remained vital this past decade or so, Strange to Explain is more than up to the challenge.




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Paint – “Ta Fardah”

Good to see the announcement that Pedrum Siadatian (Allah-Las) has a new solo LP on the way under his Paint moniker. He struck out solo under the name briefly in 2010, but really kicked it into motion with an eponymous 2018 LP that perfectly fitted the sandblasted psych that the Las trade upon into an Ayers, Barrett bag with a bit of Rundgren thrown in as well. The record was produced by fellow L.A. scene-haunter and studio wizard Frank Maston, who’s no stranger to crafting a very specific ‘60s sound. He crops up again to produce Paint’s sophomore LP and that sound is still threaded through the excellent first single “Ta Faradah,” a soft-psych spinner that nods to Siadatian’s Iranian upbringing with nods to Middle Eastern psych and funk winding its way out on Finders Keepers and Soundways these days. In addition to Maston behind the boards band also features members of White Fence and Sheer Agony, giving the record a nice sheen that spills way beyond just the sounds here. Its a bump up from the last one, and I loved that, so keep this on your radar for July.



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Rose City Band

Its been no secret around here that the sophomore LP from Rose City Band has hit hard. Expanding on the debut’s humble roots in private press psych, country, and Americana, the second offering from Ripley Johnson’s solo outfit refines his vision and takes a light dusting to the dollar-bin veneer. The scrub up doesn’t degrade the charms though, and the more refined RCB doesn’t lose a single ounce of the endearing value of Rip’s sound. Largely, RCB leans further into the streaked skies of Cosmic Country this time around, with a good dose of twang and ramble seeping into the strings underneath a blanket of heat-wave warble that seals in the saunter. Johnson forgoes a long psychedelic excursion like the debut’s “Fear Song,” this time around, instead focussing on set of songs that build to a simmer with just enough time to froth without foaming over. I

ts a tighter record, but that doesn’t mean he’s not interested in letting those liquid silver guitar lines shine. The hallmark sound of lysergic licks still graces the record, leaving Johnson’s unique stamp on it. While still paying homage to his original crop of past masters — Relatively Clean Rivers, Jim Sullivan, KAK, and Curt Newbury, — the vibes on Summerlong seem to be swinging full well into Western nodes of The First National Band, Timbercreek, or Country Funk. The shift is subtle but fits Ripley well. His honey n’ dust croon lays low like a fog over the horizons of these songs, which amble slow and choogle slightly less than he has in the past, but what they give up in rollick they make up in melt. Though, as the album wafts into its second half, the temperature heats up just a bit and the breeze dies down.

“Morning Light” picks up the pace, but not the urgency, still laying back into sunshine ease, but “Reno Shuffle” lets the night in and a bit of heat lightning, hinting at a bit of danger in the distance. For the most part it lounges in languid moments and spot-on shimmer. The album is a perfect companion to hazy summer days as they turn into warm summer nights. There’s been a wealth of entries to the Cosmic Americana canon over the last few years and this one’s standing near the top. While it was on constant rotation here, its possible that the debut from Rose City Band got lost among the releases last year. Hoping that same fate doesn’t befall this, because its definitely edging its way towards the top of the list of albums for 2020. Don’t sleep on this one.



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Stonegrass – “Tea”

Wouldn’t be a week around here without a solid psych album featuring a Darryl Norsen cover, and this week we sneak in two, just under the wire (see also: Silver Scrolls). This one comes in from longtime RSTB fave Matthew Doc Dunn (The Cosmic Range, The Golden Road) who expands upon a couple of his previous psych-saturated outfits with a debut LP under the name Stonegrass. Linking up with Jay Anderson (Badge Époque Ensemble) & Tony Price (US Girls/Young Guv,) Dunn expands on the principles that he and Anderson had begun in their defunct project that flew under the flag of The Spiritual Sky Blues Band. Combining the exploratory sense of The Cosmic Range and a bit of Anderson’s psych-funk explorations with the Badge, the pair (along with Price on production) have crafted an LP that’s lifted out of the resin-soaked bins of the ‘70s psych sojourn – evoking sessions that stretch three days and roll out with barely a legible anecdote from the players but with riffs that could cut glass on contact. The first cut, “Tea,” is an absolute monster — barreling out of the speakers with grit and gas fumes, destined to tear your woofers to shreds. The whole album is a crusher, but you’ll have to wait until later in the month to experience its full glory.





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Kikagaku Moyo – “Ouchi Time”

Another sublime cut from this new Looking Glass series though MexSum and its from longtime faves Kikagaku Moyo. The band’s been working outside the album boundaries all year with a solid entry to the Sub Pop Singles Club and now this gem that’s playing to their psych-folk strengths, but bringing in the bob of rhythm that keeps this track bubbling right on into German Progressive waters. As the build crests, the band lets a the chug of drums get doused in stringwork, echo, and a disorienting cascade of ecstasy. Hoping that this track hints at the direction they might be headed, but the tracks included in this series seem to be particularly singular offerings, letting band’s play around with sounds, while all adhering to a sort of humid, earthen psychedelia and folk focus. Can’t wait to see what’s next.


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Matchess – “For Lise”

Last caught Matchess on Trouble in Mind a couple of years back and its great to see them pop up in the new Looking Glass series of digital singles from Mexican Summer. The singles are intended to fund charities that benefit musicians who might be affected by the pandemic and so far the series has been stacking up nicely with great names on the way. Conan Mockasin and Sessa have already contributed with promised cuts by Kikagaku Moyo, Ariel Pink and The Green Chile also in the works. On “For Lise” Matchess lingers in the ether, pairing rolling synths with a skeletal percussion and disembodied vocals. The song is mercurial and calm, a body in suspended animation bathed in lights and colors. There’s a feeling of water in and around the track, or maybe its just the suggestion of the gentle lap the shaker makes. Either way, this one is the comedown this week needs. Bonus, since today is a Bandcamp ‘no fees’ day the whole slice goes to the charity. Keep tabs on this series. They keep getting better.




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Rose City Band – “Real Long Gone”

Another shaker from the upcoming sophomore LP by Rose City Band. While the band’s debut slipped out quietly under the shadow of anonymity, leaving a few aural clues as to who was behind it, now Ripley Johnson (Moon Duo, Wooden Shjips) has taken his rightful place in the sun for the follow-up. The band’s been blending down the private press folk loner linger with the faded country swagger of deep bench ‘70s presses and nowhere does it coalesce better than on “Real Long Gone.” The song’s got a sunburnt soul, beaten by road dust and winding down the same turns that Turnquist Remedy, Country Funk, and Mighty Baby tracked before them. In the past the heat-curl of psych has obscured the twang-tipped wrangle, but here the country careen is on full display and feeling like just the thing to ease into summer. Warmer days have a good companion in the grooves of Summerlong.


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Ash Brooks – “Mage”

The crew over at Flower Room has been exceptionally fruitful of late. Following countless meditations by Starbirthed, a solo Matt Lajoie album and news of a new Ash & Herb album, Ash Brooks announces her solo EP Temple of the Roses. Worked into shape over the last five years, the EP showcases Brooks’ patient build and more ethereal approach to the ashram sound that the pair has developed over the past few years. “Mage” is a swirling, pulsating song that curls into the air like smoke from incense, laving its scent heavy on the breeze. With her vocals weaving in and out of the fog of sound, the song works its way towards a tangled ending that braids the past with the present in an entrancing way. The EP is out May 22nd.


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