Posts Tagged ‘Psychedelic’

Sky Burrow Tales – “Muscovite”

It’s a good day for strong debuts. Following an earlier romp through Italian psych, this one comes from Austrian duo Sky Burrow Tales. The hypnotic video matches the entrancing ache of lead single “Muscovite,” as the pair burrow deep into a quivering psychedelic hollow that’s touching on early aughts faves like Brightblack Mountain Light and Headdress. They ensconce themselves in the crevice between hurt and hope, but “Muscovite” lands on the lighter side, erring towards hope and laying a light foam of fuzzed guitar over chiming drones and a buried vocal laying low in the ether. The guitars yearn and sigh. There’s a dizzying froth the the track, but where others might disorient, the pair even their swirl out into bliss pretty quickly. The full album explores a few other emotional tributaries, but this morning it feels like we could all use a little levity and light. The upcoming album is out February 5th from Feathered Coyote. Get lost in the swirl of the video above.

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Pranacrafter, Erik Davis & Aubrey Nehring – Sounds from the Bardo Vol. I

Got some exciting news today of a project from spiritual-arts programming collective Psychedelic Sangha. The NYC based group has been offering meditative psychedelic experiences, sound bath transmissions, and gatherings dedicated to sharing encounters with other states of consciousness. Notably a few of their Happenings from last year featured RSTB favorites Wet Tuna, M. Geddes Gengras, Sarah Louise, and Garcia Peoples, a series I was sad to miss being too far upstate. One of the group’s key experiences in addition to the Happenings is the Bardo Bath — a guided meditation paired with live music set to vibrate the mind beyond the edges of reality. The sound baths are inspired by the 1966 recording The Psychedelic Experience, an album designed to be used as an audio guide for navigating the inner space of the bardo. The recording was created by Drs. Richard Alpert, Timothy Leary, and Ralph Metzner and has served as a talisman for many who wish to break tethers with the body and enter a pure hypnogogic state.

With in-person experiences shut down due to safety concerns, Psychedelic Sangha has devised a way to bring the Bardo to you, at home. The first in a series, Sounds from the Bardo entitled “Born in the Kali Yuga” is being released today via the group’s Bandcamp. The first Bardo features longtime RSTB favorite Prana Crafter providing the musical component, lending his own unique strain of otherworldly float create a cocoon for the listener to enter via synth drones and a languid drip of guitar, eventually bursting forth into distorted pools of ozone-fried amp fry. The guided meditation here is provided by esteemed psychedelic scholar Erik Davis, author of High Weirdness, Techgnosis, and The Visionary State among other works.

As the project has attempted to subvert the traditional approach to the concept of sound baths in their residency so far, the home version continues that tradition, providing more than one way for the artist to experience the piece. Each piece in the series will also come along with a visual companion that allows the listener an alternative to the traditional eyed-closed Bardo experience, a nod to the group’s immersive light shows in their Happenings series. This first installment comes with hypnotic visuals by Aubrey Nehring that can alter the Bardo experience. Having listened through “Born in the Kali Yuga,” the series lives up to the high expectations placed on such amazing collaborators. As the group profess themselves — “Enter the psychedelic realm of the Misfit Seeker — welcome, friends.”


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Belbury Poly

On his last album, New Ways Out, Jim Jupp took Belbury in a less fantastical direction. ‘80s vapors crept into the cabin and the album began to imagine cinematic reaches and glossy magazine cover shoots. There was a surreal undercurrent (it is Belbury, how could there not be), but for the most part it was an album that embraced something more upbeat. It was modern life looking to imitate nostalgia and doing the feeling well. But those who’ve traveled through the Polyverse in the past know that Jupp’s world isn’t just synthscapes looking to give a backdrop to adverts that are looking for the rosy glow of the ‘70s in the rearview. Enter the next chapter, The Gone Away. The record returns to some sort of imagined captive kingdom that’s lodged somewhere between fever dream and coma nightmare.

The synths lay out a queasy backdrop of bewildered travelers grappling with being dropped into danger and unpredictable surroundings. While so many rely on a barrage of effects to initiate the psychedelic storm, Belbury has always succeeded in simply creating an unfiltered sound that simply feels like the floor being pulled from underneath you, like the sight of an extra moon on the horizon, or like encountering fauna in colors that defy human comprehension. While so many countless contemporaries armed with synths keep trying (and largely failing) to recreate the exploratory fear of ‘70s horror cinema, Jupp’s gone ahead and begun world building in sound, and the results are beguiling, disorienting, admittedly terrifying in their own way. The Gone Away is pocked with wonder, sadness, fear, and confusion, but as only Jupp can conjure the pieces fit together into a half remembered narrative that’s crawling through the subconscious and leaving iridescent footprints in is wake.

Naturally, as a Ghost Box release, this also benefits from the incredible art direction and design of Julian House, who remains as incredible as ever. Somehow Ghost Box seems to elude the larger review outlets, and that’s always been a shame, each release remains and essential piece of a puzzle that’s been doled out over decades. Perhaps one day the puzzle box will open. Until then. I’m going to keep listening.



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Color Green

This loose-knit EP hits just right for the country-psych leanings I’ve been feeling these past few years. Admittedly the hold’s only getting stronger this year. Maybe there’s a comfort effect in the genre somewhere, but the melancholy melt has taken root this summer for sure. There’s been a solid pocket for works that fall just this side of psych-folk, and just that side of cosmic country pulling out of the tailspin of the ‘10s and Color Green fit the form well. The EP is the work of Noah Kohll and Corey Madden who have an admitted debt to the drift of the Dead that’s been wafting through the rafters of late, but they also give this a wash through New Riders waters with some stops off at the kind of private press gold that birthed Relatively Clean Rivers. The twang sits high in the band’s repertoire, but the vocals are whispered on the wind and buried in a second-hand bootleg ripple of tape hiss that gives this a timeless feel, rather than the usual lo-fi associations dredged up with the noise floor of Teac turbulence.

Faded sun is in the band’s veins, dipping just below the mountains while the band peruses a wrinkled junk shop copy of the Whole Earth Catalog. It’s just languid enough to eschew proper jam territory, but sprawled out so much that you know they’re itching to take it that direction on stage. The release is out via small Toronto imprint Maximum Exposure who’ve brought out some great small releases from RSTB faves Young Guv and James Matthew VII in the past few years. The site mentions this being an early release, so no word on whether that means a digital drop before a physical but no matter what format this one lands on your speakers, it’s worth it. There’s a perfect end of summer feeling to the songs — amiable, easy, and drifting on a wind that’s got change on its mind. Keep the band in your watchlist for good things to come. If the early James Matthew tracks give an indication where these EPs can lead, you’re gonna want to see what the band does when they get some proper sine on ‘em.




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Major Stars – “Out In The Light”

Oh man, the fount of Wayne Rogers is overflowing this year. After a finely formed solo LP on Twisted Village earlier in the year, Rogers is back with Major Stars for their tenth full length. The first sounds seeping out of Roots of Confusion Seeds of Joy are as potent as ever. Towering riffs, a rumble of fuzz, and an elegiac croon from new vocalist Noell Dorsey (Avoidance, Ricochet) give the new material some serious heft. “Out in the Light” embodies as much of the classic burn of the Stars as one could hope for with a newfound melodicism from Dorsey that elevates her from the usual haze the band employs. Check the cover art from RSTB fave Robert Beatty as well, giving the record a complete package. LP lands August 16th.



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Peter Howell & John Ferdinando – Ithaca, Agincourt, & Other Psych-Folk Fairy Tales

Every Record Store Day there are a flood of releases that no one in their right mind needs to own. There are a dozen or so scattered titles that are necessary portions of back catalog that just get a bit overshadowed and would have ideally made great reissues given some space to be discussed on their own. Then there are the real gems. More often than not these real gems get pushed aside as well. They’re often reissues or records that appeal to a select group of collectors and aren’t flashy enough to get pre-release press. Sometimes, though, the best part of this is you can pick them up in regular distro dives once the dust settles. A few of these found some critical reception – Brett Smiley’s Sunset Tower reissue on What’s Your Rupture, the essential Alice Clark eponymous LP on We Want Sounds. This year, however one of the gems that slipped by softly came from Munster Records. The label issued an almost complete overview of the collaborative works of Peter Howell & John Fernando to little or no fanfare.

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Sacred Lamp

Familiarity with Canada’s psychedelic noise conduit Matthew ‘Doc’ Dunn may have come to you in quite a few ways over the last year or so. Despite having been the eye of the storm when it comes to Canada’s more experimental core, Dunn also proved that he’s got a tender tear in him as well with his solo album, Lightbourn, last year. The album saw Dunn slinking towards more traditional songforms, finding solace in Northern Lights country and flaying open his heart. While he did occasionally break out the burn on a few of this songs, the album a fairly different animal from the CD-r stock pile of an artist who’s spent time in the trenches with MV & EE, Woods and the more outre end of the psych-folk spectrum. Even more unlikely, Dunn was integral to coalescing the band that would back up Meg Remy on U.S. Girls’ In A Poem Unlimited last year, straying even further from his comfortable soil with a blend of ‘70s pop twists and jazz-scratched disco that led to one of her most invigorating albums.

He’s proved a versatile artists who can’t be underestimated, or pinned down. So naturally, his collaboration with longtime cohort Ayal Senior as Sacred Lamp is akin to none of these things. If these are your entry points to Dunn, then the duo’s eponymous LP is something more ephemeral. Built on an interplay of guitars that run between the blues ballasted acoustic and twilight divining electric runs that feel haunted by the memories of something just beyond the folds of the horizon. The record is forever chasing the feeling of peace. The LP luxuriates in the guitar, touching on moments that recall Bishop and Chasney, Basho and the collaborative combos of Steve Gunn.

Its a rose-hued gem of a record that should appeal to any fans of those respective camps or the long tendrils that tie them to several schools of fingerpicked and potent psych-folk. This one feels like it has the capacity to slip through the the most slender of cracks. I’d advise grabbing hold before it does.



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Garcia Peoples – “High Noon Violence”

If you’re just now finding your way to Garcia Peoples, well, then I feel sorry for you. Their last album was a true gem of Cosmic Americana and you’ve been missing out. However, I also feel excited for you, go dive through the debut and get ready for the follow-up, which is shaping up to be another heady journey through high-minded, body-buzz jam workouts. The band lets loose today with the torrent “High Noon Violence,” a knotted gem besieged with overcast harmonies and flooded with their usual unspoken imprint of The Dead – though flashes of New Riders and Mountain Bus wash over the rinds of their guitar salad as well as this track kicks into high gear. Its a definite highlight from the upcoming Natural Facts which lands at the end of March on their old stomping grounds, Beyond Beyond is Beyond.



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Masaki Batoh

On his first solo album since 2012’s largely experimental Brain Pulse, Japanese legend Masaki Batoh returns to the roots of psych-folk that wrought Ghost all those years ago. Winding through the same serene mists that haunted Lama Rabi Rabi and the band’s eponymous debut, Nowhere is a picture of Batoh leaning into his strengths while embracing both Japanese and, for the first time, English lyrics. While this is his first solo record proper in a while, its hardly the first we’ve heard from Batoh’s camp in the last couple of years. Following three albums working the psychedelic edge with his outfit The Silence, Nowhere is also a return to the meditative pacing reverent calm for the songwriter, relying on circular fingerpicks and the humid creep of echo to replace anything as outwardly explosive as he’s been fond of recently.

Having been drawn to the work of Masaki Batoh through Ghost and later working back through Sweet and Honey and Cosmic Invention, this mode feels like a welcome homecoming for me. The songwriter’s long arched over into the mystic touches, feeling every bit as otherworldly as the Tolkien-referencing plucks of Bo Hansson or the ritualistic runs of Ash Ra Temple. On Nowhere, Batoh dips back into those modes, while also proving that he’s picked up new habits along the way. He picks at American blues on “Devil Got Me,” and skews towards a a tougher, almost ‘90s blooze approach on “Sundown,” but he manages to keep the album from feeling like a hodgepode. Its more like a journal of psychedelic damnation – a sketchbook of psych-folk-blues embattlement as divined by someone at his own crossroads. Maybe Batoh’s isn’t as famous as Robert Johnson, but it still feels elemental.



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CAVE – “Beaux”

CAVE’s latest has been a constant on the turntable here and its definitely headed towards the year-end list. With that in mind, there’s always room for another peek at the album. The band are embarking on a tour to support the album and have a new video out for standout track “Beaux.” Full of the slinky psych-funk that makes Allways so vital, the track is given a fittingly psychedelic video from director Krzys Piotrowski with VFX from Nick Ciontea. If you’ve missed out on the album up until now, then use this as a reminder to tap into CAVE’s breezy freak wonderland.

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