There have been a ton of excellent records coming out of Toronto’s Idée Fixe Records lately, and among the top have been the last couple of records from ROY. The band’s Patrick Leffler does double duty in ROY and sister band Possum. If the former embraces and nails the Nuggets-era psych-pop at its best the latter does an equal job of embodying the wormhole dropout psychedelia of ‘70s space rock. Possum drop in and dose early with the brain fry freakout of “Clarified Budder,” a cut that laces the Scandinavian psych of Gudibrallan or Kebnekajse with a a touch of German cosmic wonder. As the record wears on its clear that the band’s influences don’t stagnate in merely one facet of the psychedelic ‘70s. The members embrace and infuse the creep of psychedelics into jazz into Lunar Gardens, bleeding some of electric Miles and Hancock vibes into the mix, letting a rain-scented Hammond and wah-scorched guitar duel on “Heywood Floyd” and wading into the fumes of the Organic Music Society on “Moonjuice.”
Usually when bands lock into these influences there seems a tendency to be almost too precious with them, using them more as a template than a launchpad. Possum don’t stick to hard to the Swedish school, the German Progressives, or the jazz explorers, embodying the name of their track “Leyline Riders” quite nicely. They feel out the thrum of the past and let it guide their hands, but it never stops them from lighting up a few new pyres in the process. The rhythms lock down like an anchor, but the band ignites the guitars like a shattered Van Der Graf generator in fog — setting bursts of color racing jagged across the speakers. They weave an atmosphere that’s drenched in a cool, dampness. There’s a feeling of dry ice and danger lurking beneath the beating heart of Lunar Gardens, a record that’s mapping out temples found far from our own Terra Firma. Its not always easy to make psychedelia feel like its treading new terrain, but Possum have created a record that’s ambitious in scope and admirable in execution.
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