Tag Archives: psychedelic

Jagwar Ma – Howlin

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Is it right to review an album that’s been out for a while now? Don’t think I should feel bad about it as I’m not working for NME or another hype machine. The three blokes from Jagwar Ma have been in the game since 2011 but their first LP Howlin has only been available in Europe since June this year and it quickly got my attention, to be quite honest.

The music can be described as a mix between Django Django and Tame Impala. Not that the latter do have something to do with electronic music but I personally tend to classify Jagwar Ma‘s music as slightly dreamy, yet hypnotic even if it’s dance music, in first instance. Maybe it’s too “soft” to be considered as psychedelic but it somehow totally stimulates my hypothalamus, which is a good thing.

The Throw, for example, is the best proof that Jagwar Ma isn’t just a typical electronic act. If first starts with a decent drum loop, reverb-loaded vocals, guitars and loads of other samples just to burst into some kind of dancy tune in the likes of Chk Chk Chk (a.k.a. !!!) or LCD Soundsystem. Four keeps the pace up and should be on every party playlist or whatever kids call it these days.

My favorite song is still Man I Need, not because it’s some kind of stomper or something alike, but it sounds like a perfect POP song (yes, pop music can be enjoyable sometimes). So does That Loneliness as it sounds like if The Beach Boys and The Beatles had a child. A dangerous comparison, I reckon, but the songwriting has these retro references and a feel good vibe with enjoyable melodies. This is obviously due to the production which used a lot of pan gimmicky in addition with shitloads of effects and samples coming out of nowhere, plunging the listener into a motley dreamworld making it irresistible to stand still and not to dance at all. Some call it Madchester but I don’t feel this music as a revival of that genre with the exception of The Throw which could be from that era, to be honest.

These blokes definitely haven’t re-invented the wheel but Howlin surely is a solid release and a pleasant surprise. You should give it a go and see them on stage anytime soon!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vU6a7Haw78]

Naam – Vow

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Mystic tunes welcome the listener to Vow, Naam’s second long player after their debut album in 2009 and their EP in 2012. A mix of psychedelic hard rock and stoner elements create this LP’s character throughout the 11 songs, intros and outros. The title track takes the listener for a ride on a psychedelic wave during which rapids beware the trip from being boring at any moment.

The different intros between the songs bend the bow for a very confident performance. The songs have a clear structure which doesn’t prevent the love of experimentation from being heard. The sound production is pretty raw, lacking a kind of deepness from time to time, although raw sound also is necessary for this kind of music. Finding the balance may be a challenge for further albums.

Nevertheless, lovers of psychedelic hard rock will find everything their heart could wish on Vow: spacy sounds like in Brightest Sight or in the space odyssey Beyond , hard bass lines as in On The Hour, one of my favourite songs on the album by the way, electronic organs, sitars, hard riffs, outbursts and also oppressive moments. Only the vocals may become a bit annoying as time goes on, but this may be an impression which is valid for every psych-rock record ever made, though one must say that the performance here is pretty standard.

In the end, this is a very chilling and at the same time challenging LP for those moments when the lust for Sabbath or Deep Purple grows too strong.


Denis

Electric Eye – Pick-up, Lift-off, Space, Time

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A nice little piece of psychedelic rock was flying trough space and time and landed on our desk. On the one hand, Electric Eyes’ ingredients are typical for the genre: warped tunes and electronic spacy sequences. On the other, the Norwegians try to build up a hard and progressive groove, which works out most of the time due to the powerful and restless drum beat throughout every song.

Pick-up, Lift-off, Space, Time starts off with 6AM, which already clearly defines the main direction of the LP, although it sometimes feels like being a bit uninspired. Geneva is one of those atmospheric songs that you may imagine being used as background soundtrack of an IMAX documentary about our dear planet Earth. Vocals and samples show up from time to time, as well as sitars and a theremin, creating an ambiance between drug trips and Star Trek.

Tangerine is the first star of this album, building up an uneasy and optimistic atmosphere at the same time, before exploding in an almost post rock like wall of destructive sound. Definitely one of the strongest moments in Pick-up, Lift-off, Space, Time, if not even the climax of this adventure.

Negative aspects? Maybe monotony. Sometimes the drum beat annoys untrained ears, which would be a problem for the whole genre. The harsh guitar sound nevertheless brings almost every song to a point in the very right moment, as for example in The Road, the shortest song with 4:10.

The forceful sound and the wall of sensory input may sometimes overcharge the listener, although this often reflects one of the major strengths of the record. The closing song is named after the band and floats nicely between Pink Floyd and Sigur Rós before putting a grooving and enjoyable end to this versatile work of psychedelic rock. Give it a try!

Motorpsycho – Still Life With Eggplant

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Prog and Psych Rock veterans Motorpsycho are back with their new studio album Still Life With Eggplant. After a huge double album project in 2012, including cooperation with an orchestra and Ståle Storløkken, this release again is more like a back to basic or classic Motorpsycho album, although this kind of vocabulary doesn’t do justice to the Norwegians variety of styles.

Still Life With Eggplant is a very diversified and, for Motorpsycho standards, even a pretty accessible LP that reminds a litte of the 2010 release Heavy Metal Fruit. But unlike the space odyssey that was built back then, it seems that the band takes us to the countryside this time, producing even a kind of acoustic summer song with The Afterglow in the end. Let’s start with the beginning however. Hell, Part 1-3 is what I would call a typical Motorpsycho song (but be careful, I missed around two decades of this band’s history): progressive and strong riffs compared with hypnotizing vocals, not to forget a jazzy outro to end this nearly 10 minutes opener.

August starts threatening before the clouds are thrusted aside and a 60s Woodstock song made in Norway takes over. The thunderstorm takes over again however, and before you realise it the song is over and you’re left behind with wet clothes. Barleycorn again stands for the band’s talent to mix deep melancholic moments with moments of hope and awakening. This duo permanently goes hand in hand, musically and lyrically.

Ratcatcher is the obligatory 17 minute odyssey, trying to hypnotise you right from the beginning before taking you on a journey through dizzying drums, psychedelic vocals and capricious guitars. There aren’t many bands anymore that design so diverting 17 minutes songs.

Still Life With Eggplant is not as strong as the comparable Heavy Metal Fruit , but if you liked the 2010 release then this is surely something for you! Also very recommendable for Motorpsycho beginners.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3NqmxF_GuGE]

DillenDub – DillenDub

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Here’s for something completely different. In case you’ve never heard of this band before, DillenDub (which is a clever pun for trompo in Luxembourgish) are a talented trio from Luxembourg consisting of Pol Belardi on bass and synthesizer, Jérôme Klein on the synths and Aloyse Weyler on the drums, who is also active in bands like TheCarps’ or The Majestic Unicorns from Hell.

What DillenDub actually serve is a pleasant blend of dub, mixed with some fine kraut or psychedelic elements underlined in a jazzy groundwork; you might even find a few reggae influences too. Songs like Tapir Cakewalk catch the listener’s attention from the very beginning, unfolding enough free space to slowly enter into the spell of each track. What starts slowly as an ambient, jazzy track becomes a trippy journey to what I perceive as a mild drug induced trip to lala-land, which is a very good thing.

Ford Prefect keeps the pace up, making you want to shake your moneymaker all the time, it’s just groovy as hell. I remember listening to this track for the first time and I was all upset because of the nervous synthie part but if you give this beauty a few listens it could become your potential new favourite track on the LP.

My personal favourite track is Fruity Loop. Calling it “perfect” might be a tad bit exagerated, but the synthie violins got me from the very first second. This IS my personal soundtrack to listen at sunset on the lakeside on a warm spring day, drifting along to the mellow mood of this chill masterpiece and be one with each and everything. Honestly, it reminds me of AIR during their Moon Safari period, which is very positive; AIR never sounded any better than on that album.

I will not sink in for the remaining songs and hope I made you curious enough to get DillenDub‘s self-titled debut or to see them live as soon as possible. This band has got enough potential and it would be a shame not to give credit to these talented musicians for this promising album they created!

Eric

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOWNuf3yeFA]

Plankton Waves – Songs Of Endings

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“In all of our songs, we’re looking for a kind of beauty, and every beauty has a certain melancholy and gloom inside.” Plankton Waves pretty much knew into which direction the output for their debut EP would go when we had the pleasure to interview them last summer. Listening to Songs of Endings in this light, endings may be the beginning of something new. The musical experience throughout these 20 minutes of electronic music made in Luxembourg is hypnotic and leaves enough space for the listener to define what endings, beauty and melancholy could mean.

The overall repertoire has been broadened, the vocals still have that Indian-like feeling, nature merges into electronic worlds, sometimes dark, sometimes lucid, sometimes both and nothing at all.

Synthesizers and beats often leave place for experimentation and psychedelic parts, but they always just appear for a very short flash before arranging into straight forward and progressing tracks. A kind of 80s sound is still very present, even though not that obvious compared to their appetiser single Cloud Caravan, released last year. French and German lyrics are missing on Songs Of Endings, the mysterious vocals were chosen to be in English only this time. The overall psychedelic feeling rounds up the nature of the EP; it could be described as a poppish and experimental electro experience in the end, for those listeners who choose to put music into words. The rest may just want to give it a try and hear if the electronic Armageddon takes place or not.

The EP will officially be released on February 22nd (click here), accompanied with the release of a new video.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JR5bVUM42Is]

Elephant on Onyx – EOO Demo

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What are you gonna do when you’re up for some unknown music, given that most of your favourite bands haven’t had a new release yet? Right, read some magazines or go to the internet and trawl bandcamp.

Elephant on Onyx are a band you may (at least for the moment) only meet by chance on one of your internet safaris. Their debut EP (or demo) can be downloaded for free (or for a price of your choice) on their bandcamp site, so this may just be a short appetiser for what’s about to happen.

The four Italian’s 4 track EP often recalls the good old Fu Manchu 90s, although the overall guitar sound contains a stronger prise of heaviness. The start unfortunately comes over like a curtailed experimentation of an electro intro mixed with a short riff that also could easily have been a jingle for some cheap product on a midnight TV program. Predator thankfully saves the day and gives the direction of the characterising sound of 90s stoner and psychedelic rock.

Be it fast parts or doom, Elephant on Onyx do a good overall job, but the listener shouldn’t expect huge innovations of the genre. Moreover, the vocals sometimes drone out in a way that is way too Fu Manchesque, sometimes at the riffs cost. Nevertheless, the changes from heavy stoner parts to psychedelic melodies evoke a pretty good feeling, and one should try this appetiser and remain very curious about the way a potential full album will sound like.