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tiistai 30. syyskuuta 2014

Naam / Black Rainbows / The Flying Eyes / White Hills: 4-Bands Split Vol. 1

Heavy Psych Sounds (HPS016)

This very cool four-band-compilation released on CD and 2LP is one of those promo downloads that I always seem to forget to review in time... With White Hills on board the spaceship I of course pre-ordered the limited to 70 copies gold vinyl with CD bundle, but still didn't realize that I was also supposed to review the thing. Well, better late than never I guess.

I must confess that I still don't have any releases by US band Naam, who just played at our Slip Inside This Club in Helsinki last Friday and were most excellent, as well as super nice guys. The singer even was a big Vibravoid fan, even though you don't really hear it in their music. Here we've got two tracks, a cool ambient mix of their very hypnotic and dark song "Skyscraper". This reminds me of Om but is more psychedelic and spacey and not that heavy. I like this track a lot, although it makes me a bit sleepy! The instrumental "Thickening Web" is the second Naam song and it's another rather slow, spacey and long piece that puts you in a trance. Can I hear some Pink Floyd influences on this one? White Hills give us an alternative, 11-minute version of their old experimental drone/space number "They've Got Blood... Like You've Got Blood" first released in 2005. It's great stuff but it seems to me that Dave never gives out his best tracks for split releases for some reason.

On the second LP there's some more energetic, rocking stoner stuff for a change. Italy's own Black Rainbows have proven to be a band to look out for, and their two previously unreleased songs really rock out. "Viper Tongue" is groovy, fuzzy stoner rock in the Fu Manchu vein and "The River, The Moon, The White Lake, The Megaelectrofantafuzzspace" gets more spacey and out-there with lots of guitar soloing and stuff. This instrumental is more like a jam than a proper song but I enjoy it a lot. Check out their split LP with Farflung, it's out of this world! I haven't really got it why The Flying Eyes from Baltimore, Maryland, USA have been so popular in Germany especially, since I have not found their albums that special. Having said that, the band seems to be getting better release by release, so maybe they've deserve it after all. Their first track here is called "Golden Grey" and is pretty okay, but unfortunately for me brings to mind some grunge bands from the 90s. "Evil Little Leslie" is far more interesting and has a cool, sinister, 60s garage styled creeping, bluesy vibe. They also lend from the blues classic "Spoonful" quite a lot, but who cares. The track starts to rock hard and fast later on which is nice.

All in all, this is a rather versatile  compilation and a good idea to to have two tracks by most bands instead of just one like your standard compilations. The Vol. 1 in the title seems to hint that there are more releases like this to come and I will be waiting...




maanantai 29. syyskuuta 2014

Simones: Majic Ship 7"

Fruits de Mer Records (Crustacean 50)

Al Simones is often labelled as US equivalent of Nick Saloman/The Bevis Frond, and there's some point in that. Simones just more or less stayed in his bedroom by himself for decades while Nick has also recorded in studio and worked with a full band line-up for a long time now. Both still have a unique style to make psychedelic rock music and play very cool, skilful fuzz guitar solos, and do their own thing in their own way not being concerned about music trends or big record companies etc. Simones has only released four albums on his own small private label, and I'm sorry to say I never bought them and now they are worth ridiculous sums of money. Even the limited 4LP box set that was put out last year by Headspin Records was too expensive for me. Well , hopefully some day...

Anyway, I'm glad that I can have at least one 7" single with two excellent Simones compositions. Both tracks are taken from the Balloon Ride LP from 1999, so nothing unreleased here but still this is very cool. "Majic Ship" is a nice, mid-tempo psych rock track with some Golden 60s vibe. The production is pretty lo-fi but very intimate and honest. I love the wild fuzz guitar solos that take you by surprise!  There are also some more acoustic, even folky moments in there. I also like the vocals so all in all a very good song! The B-side "Seize the Moment" is a beautiful, almost ballad-like piece but also has cool heavy psych guitar work-out and freaky sounds to give that extra mind-blowing effect. Very nice! I really want to hear more...

torstai 25. syyskuuta 2014

Superfjord: It Is Dark, But I Have This Jewel

KHY Suomen Musiikki Oy

Superfjord is a new psychedelic band project by ex-Kevin member Jussi Ristokaarto featuring members/guests from various Finnish indie rock/pop bands like Liekki, Pariisin Kevät, Rubik, Xysma, The Hearing, Siinai etc. in its different studio and live incarnations. Jussi sent me his version of Coltrane's "A Love Supreme" a few years ago and I could instantly tell that he was into something. I'm happy to say that a new version also found its way to this very deep, spiritual, meditative and psychedelic instrumental debut album!

The album includes seven tracks. The opener "The Great Vehicle" introduces hypnotic, Manuel Göttsching styled delay guitars, monotonic but rather soft rhythms, lush keyboards & synths and soulful, jazzy saxophone that also freaks out a bit. You are transported into this other, dreamy and wonderful world right away! "A Love Supreme" is without a doubt one of the highlights here as well as in their live sets and also very psychedelic with some spoken word samples and lots of effects, great guitar solos etc. Just close your eyes and float away, wonderful! "I Play with Flowers and Their Fragrance Clings to My Clothes" is a very nice acoustic folk number with some bird-song and you can image yourself laying on your back on a field on a pleasant summer day. "Mai Huli'oe I Kokua O Ke Kai" is a groovier, sort of funky track with percussion and kind of reminds me of some of The Hypnomen stuff. Very nice! "The Chandrasekhar Limit" is an experimental, droney and floating ambient piece at first, but a slow, relaxing beat is added later on and we also get some dub influences and lots of uplifting stuff. The dream continues in a very cool way. One of the most mind-altering tracks is "La Locura / Tonttumauste", very hallucinatory and weird stuff and I love it. The ending sounds a bit like Neu... The last track is called "I Seem to Have Forgotten What We Were Talking About" and it's again a slow, soft and dreamy piece with some excellent guitar and other stuff. I'm really glad that people are making this kind of music in Finland right now and I warmly recommend this album to everyone into psychedelic, dreamy, jazzy, groovy and hypnotic instrumental rock/pop. Personally, I'm really looking forward to the LP version of this album. If you happen to be in Helsinki tonight come and see them live for free at Henry's Pub in Kamppi!

tiistai 23. syyskuuta 2014

Fatso Jetson & Herba Mate: Early Shapes

Go Down Records

This is a cool split album by Californian stoner/desert rock legends Fatso Jetson and a new Italian band Herba Mate. There are three new tracks by Fatso Jetson and four tracks recorded live in the studio by Herma Mate. I must confess that I don't have all the Fatso Jetson albums or anything but I really like their stuff and was lucky to see them live one time in Berlin. "Living All Over You" gives you that warm, full and slightly intoxicating and hypnotic desert rock vibe that makes you nod your head in trance and I dig it. Great, groovy mid-tempo riff, excellent vocals and perfect sound. On "Long Deep Breath" you can also hear some keyboards and this is more complex song in other ways too but still not too difficult or hard to gasp. Very airy, melodic, touching and somehow deep song, I like it a lot. Desert rock doesn't have to be that heavy all the time! The last, long Fatso track/jam "Nyquilt" was recorded live in a studio and sounds a bit different but not bad at all. This is a hypnotic instrumental with just some wordless voices sometimes on top of the psychedelic, a bit heavier background that also includes backwards guitar. This is rather mesmerising stuff!

The Italian trio does a good job as well. They are probably more in the Kyuss/Colour Haze vein and have a heavy, fuzzy sound but with lots of emotion and meaning. I have previously reviewed their debut album. The instrumental "Desert Inn I" goes down well really well with its druggy, hazy desert vibe, and the energetic and in-your-face "Dance Dance Dance" rocks really good reminding me of some of the Brant Bjork stuff. "Way Down" is a punky and fast, two-minute adrenalin rush that kicks ass and the last instrumental piece "Desert Inn II" a closer to nine minute, cool continuation of their first track. There are some nice, more atmospheric jamming on this one, but also good, solid and heavy riffs. It was not an easy task to share a split album with Fatso Jatson but these boys from Italy pulled it off! This album is available on CD and limited vinyl and they both look amazing.

The Luck of Eden Hall: Victoria Moon / The Happine$​$ Vending Machine


Okay, this excellent US psychedelic rock/pop band released their latest album as a limited CD edition a year ago already, but since Victoria Moon is just now also out on 2LP on Headspin Records in Europe this review is pretty current anyway. I don't have the actual CD (but have ordered the limited 2LP of course!) but the digital download sounds just as good I'm sure. The band already delivered me some different mixes you could possibly have by pre-ordering the CD and there are some true gems in those as well... But let's concentrate on the actual album.

The Luck of Eden Hall always have lots of great, catchy, Beatlesque melodies and on this album they seem to have exceeded themselves. In addition to the golden era of psych rock & pop they also take some influences from the 80s Paisley Underground scene and there's even some modern (or 90s anyway) indie rock in there I think and other stuff as well. The album starts off with the inventive "Sassasfras Overcoat", and the next, groovy track "Queen of the Stars" also has some sequencers to make it more powerful when needed. Great track with pretty cosmic lyrics! "Victoria Moon", the title track begins in a very psychedelic, experimental way and is a soft, lovely but strange piece. "The Collapse of Suzy Star" is a melancholic, semi-acoustic sort-of-ballad that somehow reminds me of Beck. "Zap" is a short and energetic psych rocker, and "Sitting Bull" rocks fast too and has a lush, slower chorus with Mellotron sounds. "Drunk Like Shakespeare on Love" brings to mind The Green Pajamas in the 90s and "Dandy Horse" has rather heavy guitar sounds and a superb ending with "Hey Joe" chords. One of my favourites (although there really are no weak songs here!) is "Super Phantasmal Heroine" that really makes the cold shivers go though my spine, it's just so marvelous! "Cracked Alice" has a peaceful beginning, but starts to rock out after one minute. The drums remind me of "Tomorrow Never Knows" by The Beatles and I'm sure it's not a coinsidence... A nice little track! On "Blood On My Feet" the band gets in their melancholic mood again and I like it, especially with the Mellotrons. After the short but sweet "She's Your Anodyne" it's time for the album-closer "The Horrible Pill Book" that starts of with some amusement park sounds and then we're in for some very nice psych rocking. What can I say, I just love everything about this band: the vocals, melodies, rhythm section, keyboards and synths and the superb guitar tones, solos and effects, just amazing!

If you want the CD you'd better hurry up since there are only around 20 copies left from the band's Bandcamp site and I'm sure the limited vinyl editions will also sell pretty fast. This album is warmly recommended for everyone into melodic, inventive psych rock and pop!

If that wasn't enough, the band also have a brand new digital single you can also get through their Bandcamp site. The title track "The Happine$​$ Vending Machine" is a strong song about money that has some The Beatles vibes but there's more. The second new song "Anthropoda Lepodoptra" is a dreamy, beautiful ballad with a twist and I love it too. I hope these will see the light of day on a 7" as well!

maanantai 15. syyskuuta 2014

Vibravoid: Rheinflow EP

Stoned Karma Records (SK701)

Here come the Düsseldorf's psych rock masters with their brand-new, ultra-cool limited 7" EP! These five new tracks are naturally pretty short but oh so sweet... The simple, highly addictive, catchy and groovy "Alphawave" rocks in the 60s style and has all the necessary ingredients to make your brain bubble in just over two minutes. Pure magic!  The title track is a more fuzzed-out, heavy piece but just as mind-blowing and even more hallucinatory including very hypnotic vocals. "Betawave" is a short ambient chill-out track that only lasts for a minute but it comes in need. The instrumental "Raga Baya" is the longest track at 4:46 and as the title suggests this is an Eastern-tinged, sitar/tabla-laden and mega-groovy piece that will fit perfectly your late-night psychedelic dance parties and vinyl orgies. Amazing! The short "Gammaway" is the most experimental piece on the EP and finishes off the last trace of your brain cells. I love this band! Unfortunately the 7" EP is a bit late and the new release date is 10 November. It will also be available as a download. Just get this little psych / flower power masterpiece!

New postal address for promotion!

Psychotropic Zone has moved to a spacier location so if you are planning to send me some physical stuff to review please ask for the new address.

Dj Astro