Posts Tagged ‘Psychedelic’

Partisan Records – 16th September 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s simply impossible to keep up with everything all the time. It feels like a recurrent theme, and even something of a mantra: so many bands, so little time.

Over the course of eighteen years, The Black Angels have cemented their position as, as their bio puts it, ‘standard-bearers for modern psych-rock’. And that’s not hyperbole: it’s a fair assessment.

2010’s Phosphene Dream was a major let-down, particularly in the wake of two such stunning predecessors, with Passover and Directions to See a Ghost. Consequently, feeling disillusioned, both Indigo Meadow and Death Song bypassed me, but Wilderness of Mirrors landed in my inbox with the promise of a return to early form after a five-year gap – or, as they put it, ‘marks a triumphant return with their foot on the pedal. Political tumult, the pandemic and the ongoing devastation of the environment have provided ample fodder for their signature sound and fierce lyrical commentary’.

For Wilderness of Mirrors, the band worked with Brett Orrison (co-producer) and Dinosaur Jr engineer John Agnello ‘to achieve something fresh and new while retaining their heavily influential classic sound’.

Wilderness of Mirrors is epic and feels like it needs to be a double album simply because it has such weight and important in a way that’s hard to really define. It’s not sprawling and awkwardly indulgent: yes, it does contain fifteen songs, but less than half extend beyond four minutes. But it’s an album of density.

Opener ‘Without a Trace’ starts out tentative-sounding distant before the bass crashes in like a landslide and in an instant, the listener is sucked into a dense sonic whirl. It’s the gritty bass that also dominates the pulverising ‘History of the Future’ that lands somewhere between Ther Jesus and Mary Chain and Ride, with some blistering guitar that’s a wall of fuzzing, fizzing treble against a busy beat and a bass that buzzes so hard it practically cuts the top off your head. And just like that, you’re back to remembering why this band mattered in the first place. Everything is a murky swamp of reverb, a deep 60s vibe radiating through the 80s and 90s filter.

I’ve long noted how the Jesus and Mary Chain essentially played surf pop with feedback and distortion, and ‘Empires Falling’ follows this approach magnificently, and with its relentless rhythm section and squalling guitars, it bears strong and obvious parallels with A Place to Bury Strangers.

It’s best played at high volume, of course: this is guitar music to melt the brain, and if songs like ‘El Jardn’ and the acoustic ‘Here & Now’ are more accessible, melodic and overtly indie, they offer some much-needed respite, while still boasting some howling guitars. There’s a vaguely gothic hue to the sneaking guitars and dubby grooves of ‘Make it Known’ and the slower ‘The River’, and it works well in contributing to the album’s rich and varied atmosphere and contrast with the jittery tension of the title track.

Ultimately, the best thing about Wilderness of Mirrors is that is sounds like The Black Angels – quintessentially, unmistakeably, with its motorik grooves, simple, repetitive riffs and song strictures that define the chorus not by a significant shift in key or chords, but by the explosion of sound, the simple structures executed with rare panache. They’re definitely on form here.

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James Wells

Fucking hell, we really are running out of names, aren’t we? To the point where even otherwise memorable bands are forgettable because of their ultra-generic name. And some acts sink without a trace because they’re simply impossible to even find through an Internet search. Actor is an obvious example for me, but then we’ve recently had Loungewear grace these virtual pages, and now bloody Tracksuit. How would The The or The Police have faired in the Internet age, I wonder? I mean, stepping aside from the fact their music is tedious and people would probably skip their songs faster than ever now. But it seems like bands aren’t even trying now: Sports Team? Two very different acts operating as Working Men’s Club? Are they trying to bury themselves before their careers have even begun, or do they simply have no imagination and no concept of how The Internet works? Or have we simply reached the apogee of postmodernism, the point at which truly everything has been done, there is no ‘new’, only regurgitations and rehashing, and culture has reached its inevitable dead-end?

It’s a shame Tracksuit have doubly done themselves a disservice with a moniker that’s not only super-generic but also a bit shite, especially as it really doesn’t reflect what they’re about at all. It’s a shame because ‘Ghost of Rome’ is decent. It’s not some lame rappy shite or laid-back bedroomy r ‘n’ b: it’s fundamentally a stripped-back psychedelic rock tune with a keen sense off dynamic and a palpable energy, meaning there’s a lot to like as they dig in with a lively and buoyant bass groove that’s got action and detail. It’s got a heavy 70s vibe about it and it kicks ass – but probably doesn’t need anymore cowbell, because everything is just right.

Click the image to listen:

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Dark heavy psych/doom group Lucid Grave has unleashed the “Old Spirit” music video, made by Dóri Halldórsson and Amanda Jensen. “Old Spirit” serves as the second song from the Copenhagen quintet’s debut album, Cosmic Mountain, which came out on 15 July via Electric Valley Records digitally and on four versions of vinyl (Test Press, Solid Yellow, Transparent Red Splatter Black Vinyl, Ultra LTD “Cosmic Edition”).

Lucid Grave Informs: “‘Old Spirit’ is a heavy psych rock song with influence from the early ’80s punk. The song is about a fast spacy universe in-between two worlds. The song is inspired by the lead singer’s days in the high desert in California. The desert heat is hard on everything and everyone. And the wind still tells stories of the Native Americans, the legends of desert rock, and the military base in the unforgiven sun.”

Watch the video here:

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Lucid Grave is a dark heavy psychedelic band with stoner-doomy tendencies from Copenhagen, Denmark. Sonically, Lucid Grave is a boiling pot of heavy fuzz rock like Black Sabbath/Coven/Hawkwind and ‘80s punk like Black Flag/The Nuns/The Gun Club, all wrapped up in a nice blanket of modern heavy stoner rock and doom. Honoring the howling occult cinema of the ‘80s, Lucid Grave finds inspiration in everything that’s heavy, filthy, and free!

They emerged from the underground communal house and punk venue Ungdomshuset in the dying days of 2017. A few months later, in 2018, they released a self-titled demo and spent the next few years playing shows around Denmark with bands such as High Priestess, Cities of Mars, The Gates of Slumber, and Heathe, while making more materials as well. In 2020 Copenhagen label Virkelighedsfjern released Lucid Grave’s EP called Goddess of Misery, a venture seriously disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak — which meant no shows for a while. That time was instead spent on writing materials for their first full-length album. In 2021 they released a single called “Surfer Bat,” an upbeat ‘70s heavy Rock song with a twist of gothic punk vibes and a dash of Latin music. It caught the attention of the Italian heavy psych label Electric Valley Records.

Cosmic Mountain, the debut LP of Lucid Grave, is a journey through your favorite drugs of life, the highs, and the lows, being chased through the desert and fighting a haze of demons. The album was recorded live and over-dubbed in just three days at the beginning of 2022. As it was with the previous single, “Surfer Bat,” Patrick Fragtrup was again behind the mixing board for the session, and it is clear that there has developed an understanding between him and the band as this record sounds both huge and fierce without losing any clarity or energy from the group. The project was finished by Shane Trimble of High Reeper at his California studio.

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27th July 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

The multi-talented, multi-discipline and perhaps, sometimes, not-so-disciplined Benjamin Heal returns in his Cowman guise, under which he’s been operating since 2005 with a new EP, his first in a decade, after previous creative detours with Coaxial and various other projects.

Over the course of a sporadic and low-key career, li-fi, slackerist Cowman has – impressively, whether by fluke or by design – appeared on bills with a slew of cred cult acts, including Ack Ack Ack, Gum Takes Tooth, Cove, Pifco, and John Parish. These notable highlights are well-deserved, but it’s a pleasure to witness cowman making a comeback, instead of simply revelling over former achievements.

Crunch is a magnificently loose knockabout and if Pavement comparisons may seem lazy shortcuts, they’re also entirely justified. But then… then… there’s a whole lot more. The first track, ‘Concrete Eyes # Turpentine’ , with its inexplicable punctuation, starts out a fairly straightforward, if angular indie kicker in the vein of Slanted era Pavement, with wonky, off-kilter guitars that sound vaguely out of key, but then spins off into an epic swirling expanse of psychedelic post-rock. The whole thing is almost ten minutes long, drifting into a long, sluggish drone in the final minutes.

There’s an easygoing picked guitar line that contrasts with jittery drums on ‘Concrete pink Dots’ before the distortion kicks in, and it does so hard, creating a dense whorl of noise that almost buries the drums, until they surrender to the barrage of din, and we find ourselves drifting in a cloud of hazy shoegaze guitar. It’s mellow, but it’s loud, and that’s where the hypnotic ‘Bloody Diffuser’ picks up as it embarks on another ten-minute sonic journey, a slow-smouldering soundscape heavy on delay and reverb. Switching through a succession of segments, where the transitions are jolting, flicking changes rather than seamless transitions, it’s by turns doom drone and psychedelic drone, but ultimately, it’s all the drone – and that’s a good thing.

Ordinarily, two versions of one song on the same release feels a bit lazy, but then again, I spent the 90s buying singles on three formats in order to obtain all the versions and B—sides, and I have a hunch that Benjamin is also well-versed in the maxi-single and the like, and it so happens that the cropped version of ‘Tobacco Eyes’ that rounds it off actually feels like a single that had it been released circa 92 would have been lauded in the press as being in the vein of Pavement and Truman’s Water. And in fairness, that’s just as true in 2022.

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Venus Principle are premiering the melancholic and powerful new track ‘Drag Nets’ as the final single taken from the dark psychedelic rocker’s debut full-length Stand in Your Light, which has been scheduled for release on May 27.

‘Drag Nets’ makes subtle use of a wide range of instrumentation from sax to mellotron vibes and Mini Moog, and the stunning vocal chemistry between Daisy Chapman and Daniel Änghede comes into play again as well.

The band comment: “After the initial recording sessions for Stand in Your Light were postponed, we had a chance to write a few more songs”, guitarist Jonas Stålhammar tells. “The last one written was ‘Drag Nets’. It turned out to be by far the heaviest track on the album. ‘Drag Nets’ represents the waste and rejects of man. You can trawl the sea for food and treasure, but humankind will always carelessly discard all unwanted matter only for it to be rediscovered as flotsam and jetsam. The idea of adding saxophone was a last minute thought in the studio when I reached the conclusion that we had too many guitar solos on the album already. Our amazing guest on the saxophone, August Eriksson, copied my guitar solo note for note and then added some improvised sprinkles.”

Listen to ‘Drag Nets’ here:

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‘Long Time Ago’ is the driving new single by ‘Woodooman’, Cardiff Multi-Instrumentalist and Artist, Iwan Ap Huw Morgan.

The second single to be taken from forthcoming Album ‘Y Nos’, which is due for release on 24th June; ‘Long Time Ago’ follows in the wake of the fantastic Welsh Language track ‘Y Nos Mewn Cariad’ that was released last month to a very warm reception including praise from BBC DJs Huw Stephens, Adam Walton, God Is In The TV Blog, Golwg Magazine, Lisa Gwilym and Rhys Mwyn.

‘Long Time Ago’ will be released on the 2nd of May via Recordiau Dewin Records

Listen here:

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As Italian masters of heavy psychedelia Ufomammut prepare to release their ninth full-length album, Fenice, through Neurot Recordings in early May, they have just shared a video for ‘Pyramind’.

For more than two decades, Ufomammut has combined the heaviness and majesty of dynamic riff worship with a nuanced understanding of psychedelic tradition and history in music, creating a cosmic, futuristic, and technicolour sound destined for absolute immersion. Fenice, “phoenix” in Italian, represents endless rebirth and the ability to start again after everything seems doomed. The album is the first recording with new drummer Levre joining Poia and Urlo, marking a new chapter in the band’s history and unveiling a more intimate, free sound for the group.

The second single from Fenice, ‘Pyramind’ is delivered through a visualiser filmed in a scenic rural setting in Italy. Guitarist Poia reveals, “To choose a single track from Fenice isn’t easy, because the songs are long and linked together, and the flow results are incomplete. But we think that ‘Pyramind’ represents in a very clear way Ufomammut’s two-souls attitude: the heaviness melted down with psychedelia.”

Watch the video here:

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LIVE DATES:

07.05.22 – Alessandria (IT), Laboratorio Sociale – Album release party
14.05.22 – Mezzago (IT), Bloom
24.05.22 – Vienna (AT), Arena
25.05.22 – Karlsruhe (DE), Dudefest
26.05.22 – Bremen (DE), Tower
27.05.22 – Ghent (BE), Dunk!festival
28.05.22 – Groningen (NL), Vera
29.05.22 – Berlin (DE), Desertfest
30.05.22 – Dresden (DE), Chemiefabrik
31.05.22 – Salzburg (AT), Rockhouse
10.06.22 – Munich (DE), 17 Years Sound of Liberation Festival
11.06.22 – Piacenza (IT), Desert Fox Festival
24.06.22 – Wiesbaden (DE), 17 Years Sound of Liberation – Official Festival Warmup
26.06.22 – Clisson (FR), Hellfest
18.08.22 – Pescara (IT), Frantic Festival

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Photo by Francesca De Franceschi Manzoni.

Yr Wyddfa Records – 25th March 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

The latest offering from Holy Coves (who hail from Holy Island, Anglesey, renowned for its long historical links with pirates) is a bold, mid-tempo stroller. Infused with psychedelic and stoner rock, above anything, it’s got arena-friendly anthem stamped all over it – although I don’t mean that as the insult it could be taken. Not everything has to be edgy to be any cop.

Popular doesn’t have to mean weak, watered-down, lowest common denominator, and sometimes artists are popular because they’re good, rather than in spite of the fact. And there was, after all, a time when U2 and Simple Minds both made decent music, and they were packing out immense venues long before they became pompous, overblown parodies of themselves. It from this seam of 80s upscaled sound that ‘The Hurt Within’ is mined: everything about it feels huge, effortlessly amalgamating The Cult and Bruce Springsteen and coating it in a smooth reverbiness.

Holy Codes may or may not have aspirations to be immense, but their sound most definitely is, and it’s got that big, spacious feel; there’s probably an equation that involves ambition plus songwriting and production somewhere, and if there isn’t, then someone should map the co-ordinates of ‘The Hurt Within’ and take it as a blueprint.

New enough to grab anyone with ears, nostalgic enough to appeal to the forty-somethings and perhaps even older, and solid enough to stand up in its own right, it’s hard to fault from where I’m sitting.

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San Diego’s Wild Wild Wets are gearing up for the release of their just-announced new album Love Always.

The band has launched album pre-orders/pre-saves and is debuting the first single ‘Say So’ which is now streaming here:

Co-frontman Mike Turi (along with bandmate Taejon Romanik ) says of the track and companion music video, "Our good friend and producer, JeanCarlo Mendez, not only made the album happen, he has gone out of his mind putting together this wild visual video for "Say So" using old-school analog video techniques from the 80’s. His style and sensibility is obviously very much our vibe and he and his teammate Brandon Mosquera nailed the edit on this project."

Mendez adds, ‘Say So’ was immediately one of my favorite tracks. For the video I wanted to make an early MTV Era meets early 2000’s Ipod commercial… But on Acid. We used late 80’s era video switchers to create the feedback, and old CRT monitors to create the banding and scan-lines you see in the video. "Say So" is a fun psych-pop track with infectious energy, yet Sparks-esque, in its fermented dreariness (case in point the lyric: "I never met someone who could make me feel so high and not care if I’m alive" and references to ‘Formaldehyde Perfume’).

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