Posts Tagged ‘Psych’

Bardo Pond

It’s almost hard to believe that Bardo Pond are approaching 30 years as a band, but at the same time, it’s hard to imagine the psychedelic landscape without them. I personally got hooked into the Pond, as I imagine quite a few folks did with Dilate, coming slightly late to the party but grateful to find them as hosts. They’ve spent the intervening years carving out their own place between the creased consciousness of space rock, dreampop, psych and noise. They come to their latest, Under The Pines, after an epic collaboration with Acid Mothers Temple and Guru Guru last year. The album cuts back on the sheer heft and volume that the preceding project fostered, placing vocalist Isobel Sollenberger floating high above a pounding cascade of feedback and atmospheric billow. This cloaks Under The Pines ably in the band’s dreampop guise.

They wear the style well, but as could be expected of a band that’s spent three decades chasing the tail of the psychedelic snake, they aren’t exactly hewing to a one note sound here. Even when the tracks are similarly built on caged squall, they’re constantly adding nuance to the sonic struggle between the overwhelming wall of noise and Sollenberger’s gorgeous purr. Sollenberger also adds a mystic touch of flute to the proceedings, giving the record a mournful air and another fleck of beauty battling the churning froth. Then, as if to prove their mettle tenfold, they ease out into a dustbowl of psych country for the album standout “Moment To Moment.” It’s this kind of song that stamps them as masterful elder statesmen in a crowded field of newcomers jockeying for time on the psychedelic speakers. In a career full of high caliber records, they’ve never sounded so at ease with their prowess than right now.




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Feral Ohms

Not one second of Feral Ohms’ debut lets up. The trio doesn’t give the listener a minute to catch a breath, and thank the Norse gods of thunderous destruction for that. It’s an acid bath for the soul of the universe, stripping away layer after layer of tar long since calcified and crusted into the shape of society. It appears that Ethan Miller has returned to the his position as frenetic lightning rod for amp fired chaos and it’s damn good to have him back slinging scorch. The world needs this eponymous long player more than we could ever know. As mentioned here previously, Miller found solace away from the white ball of fury that burned bright in Comets On Fire, but began a creep back with Heron Oblivion last year. Feral Ohms asserts his permanence in the pantheon of psych.

The band’s been building a clutch of singles since around 2013, but it wasn’t until Castle Face prefaced the album with a live shot that they sprang into wider consciousness. All of the live cuts find their way onto the album as well as the majority of their singles, albeit re-recorded with a technical lineup that speaks to a top tier of heavy psych sound work (Eric Bauer, Phil Manley, Chris Woodhouse and JJ Golden). It’s very possible that repeated spins of the album could melt speakers into a twitching puddle of gelatinous matter. That’s not even hyperbole, I’m worried about your system. Baton shit down and buckle up. 2017 has proven that despite long lingering reports to the contrary, the guitar still has a place of vitality in music. Few other albums assert this as definitively as Feral Ohms.





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Mt. Mountain – “Dust”

I dug in on last year’s Cosmos Terros a bit, but Perth’s Mt. Mountain seem to have topped themselves with the stratospheric Dust coming out on Cardinal Fuzz in April. The title track is an epic knock into the drone/psych trenches. Building out of an insistent thrum married to high plains guitars, not too far off from Barn Owl territory, the band adds in some desolate flute that only enhances the apocalyptic feel of the track. This one ends up in scorched earth territory, as soon as the ominous clouds part, the chaos reigns. Mt. Mountain let loose with a six ton blast of sonic carnage that levels any qualms that the Aussies might not be stepping up to the task with enough firepower. The track doesn’t sustain gale force throughout, but teeters on the precipice of doom, making for an uneasy brilliance. Aside from the obvious hometown heroes in King Gizz, Mt. Mountain slot themselves in alongside Dreamtime in holding the psych banner high in the South Hemi. Having been ones to watch out for last year, the band graduates to necessary listening with this one.




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James Jackson Toth on Japan – Tin Drum

The latest installment of Hidden Gems comes from a longtime RSTB favorite. I think it’s fair to say that without Wooden Wand, Raven wouldn’t have shaped up the way it did in those early years. When I happened on a great set by James, billed to open for Jack Rose in a cramped bar in Greenpoint back in 2005, Harem of the Sundrum and the Witness Figg quickly became a fixture on the turntable and a desire to spread some of the WW gospel was born. Below Toth shares a record that’s made an impact in his own life and how it crept in and took hold.

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Kikagaku Moyo – “In A Coil”

Coming off tremendous acclaim for their pastoral psych masterpiece House In The Tall Grass Kikagaku Moyo don’t rest easy on recreating that album’s languid vibes. Instead they holed up in Prague and went deep into their improvisational side, as embraced on their earlier records. The first offering from the EP anchors their effusive psych cloud to a motorik pulse, hammering home the rhythm as a nice offset to the squelch of guitars and lilting sitar melody. It’s comforting to know that at their heart Kikagaku Moyo are looking to find the nerve of psychedelia, song based or not, and they’re leading you on their trip. They’re not looking for any nods of approval, just getting back to the nuts and bolts of lifting consciousness.




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Jawbones

Berlin’s Jawbones carry on a tradition of high stacked space rock that skates through the pounding corridors of Krautrock and fuels itself on psychedelic fumes. Though they admittedly take inspiration from their ’60s forbears, they are much more aligned with the school of psychedelics that came up in the late ’90s and early ’00s. High and Low and Low and High brings to mind shades of The Warlocks, Spiritualized, Darker My Love, Brian Jonestown Massacre or The Black Angels. Drenched in a thick shade of smoke and anchored by feedback, the album thrives on textures as much as it does on hooks, vacillating between thunderous hammer headed Goliaths and vapor-cooled slow burners.

The Brian Jonestown connection goes deeper than sound here though. The record is being released as as joint venture between 8mm and Anton Newcome’s own A Records and driving force Leonard Kaage has played with BJM in the past. Kaage doesn’t quite have Newcome’s voracious capacity for hooks, but it’s clear that the two have been operating somewhere along the same wavelength, tapping into high levels of stratospheric froth. Overall a pretty solid entry into the canon of spaced travelers, though I’d have perhaps rethought the oddly out of place “Music For A Car Chase.” The rest will feel pretty familiar to those who’ve enjoyed the aughts’ psych waves, looking to add a little elevation to their day.




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Meat Candy – Pursuit of Sounds

London’s Meat Candy don’t exactly exude Englishness. In fact their debut 12″ feels every bit like it should be coming out of L.A. at this particular moment in time. They’ve adopted the fuzzed delivery; psych nuances and classic touchstones that Wand, Mind Meld, Ty Segall, Meatbodies and the like have been digging their nails into over the past few years and they’ve done their homework well. They trend towards the spacier end of the spectrum, embracing a good keyboard breakdown amidst the rumble and froth, setting them floating into the sunstreaked ether. The two shot of a 12″ that they volley out on Dirty Melody is as polished a gem of psych smeared vision as you’re likely to hear this week, though part of me feels a good producer on their side could push their sound into an even higher plateau. However, this is entirely promising and poised to make me think a full album could elevate their game. I could easily see them embracing concept and drive like a young Secret Machines. They earn themselves a spot on the radar if nothing else.



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Feral Ohms – “Teenage God Born To Die”

Been excited for this one since the live LP dropped onto the Castle Face roster last year. Though Ethan Miller has been involved in a cadre of psychedelic endeavors over the years (Heron Oblivion, Howlin’ Rain) his legacy has always been the wild spark of Comets On Fire. Early Howlin’ Rain had flashes of scorched riffs, but they mellowed over the years into something that had less of Comets’ DNA and more debt to ’70s radio rock. Heron Oblivion lit up psych-folk last year with a set of acetylene tracks that smelled of the same brimstone fueling Miller’s amps of yore, but it’s Feral Ohms that have truly brought his catastrophic nature hurtling back. “Teenage God Born To Die” is a wild, feral lob into the chaotic soul of heavy rock. The song threatens to tear itself, any set of speakers lucky enough to shuttle it’s fury and every waking body within earshot to pieces. Miller has woken the beast that lurks in the psychedelic heart and it’s clearly hungry. This one’s going to be hard to beat in 2017. Sweatin’ with anticipation.


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Damaged Bug

Though he’s spent the better part of his career fostering the yelp-rattled garage of Thee Oh Sees, John Dwyer is a man of many professional tributaries. Damaged Bug arose as a more psychedelic outlet for the songwriter back in 2014 and he’s steadily used to exorcise his late night, creeping dread impulses. Bunker Funk hews close to it’s predecessor, 2015’s Cold Hot Plumbs, roiling in insistent rhythms and a whispered ominousness that hangs over the album in icy stalactites. Where it differs is in taking a literal pull out of the “Funk” half of it’s title. Dwyer augments his teeth-grit lullabies with a splash of flutes and throb bass that does feel indebted to some portion of ’70s library funk. The combination is at once future leaning and in debt to the past.

But as this is Damaged Bug, the funk isn’t the kind that’s going to soundtrack your classic Impala romp, rather Dwyer drops the listener into a psych-funk wonderland of oblique funhouse mirrors and polished brass. It’s funk as twisted through the minds of Finder’s Keepers libraries and whatever wavelength Chrome have been picking out of the cosmos for the last forty odd years. Dwyer is exacting in his need to unsettle. The record is splashed in acid blots and radiant colors, but underneath he’s bending a Cheshire smile that bears an ill will, or a mischievous one at the very least. Dwyer’s universe is an echoplexed underground and Bunker Funk drags us deeper than he’s led before. He’s leading this search party into the unknown and it’s unclear which of us is coming back.




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Moon Duo – “Lost In Light”

Just off the release of the first volume of their Occult Architecture series, Moon Duo announces pt. 2, leading off with a lighter side of their sound. As promised, the second volume strips back the night terrors and dives into the lush, ethereal arm of their recordings, winding up pillowing down into dreampop territory where the first went for nervy Krautrock. The song is a total bliss-out and given the video treatment again by Micah Buzan, who picks up with similar themes from the “Cold Fear” clip and coats Moon Duo’s world in a dizzying array of animation. The first volume was a total killer, so it goes without saying that I’ve got volume 2 high on the anticipation index for the year. Sounding great from the gate.

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