Tuesday, 19 January 2016

THE MADCAPS – HOT SAUCE (Howlin’ Banana Records LP, CD, D/L)

Here comes the summer…………………. More newness for 2016 as the very cool Paris based Garage/Pop/Psych label Howlin Banana Records release the 60s influenced groovy Gaelic Garage grooves of the second album by the Rennes Pop Punk/Psychedelelic Surf band The Madcaps. Inspired by American Garage Rock and English beat music of the 60s, this record has instant sunshine locked in the LP tracks which is immediately released when the needle drops. The Madcaps can brighten up the darkest days with a vibe not unlike Punky neo Psych Pop bands such as the Barracudas. Chocked full of sweet harmonies, fuzzed up guitars, fizzing bass lines and tight ‘n’ groovy drumming, The Madcaps serve up an album packed with smooth, mid-tempo, spicy tunes guaranteed to get yer hip shaking freak on at the best beach party you could ever imagine and if that is your (beach)bag then you will certainly dig Hot Sauce.

Both knowingly dumb and slightly shambling, Hot Sauce is a riot of colour and sound drawing from the classic Garage Rock tradition with every tune clocking in around the 3 minute mark, this charmingly lo-fi record will no doubt tickle the taste buds of fans of the Allah Las, Black Lips, Holy Golightly, King Tuff, The Kinks, Shannon and The Clams and Electric Prunes………………….The Madcaps greatest grooves on this record must include the lively opener ‘Something You Got’, where razor sharp, slashing guitar and squalling sax bounce off each other in a poppy, R&B tinged trip to Garageland. For pure pop thrills, ‘One More Chance’ and ‘Crack Me Up’ are two supercharged, angsty adolescent Garage Punk/Surf Rock tunes……….’Crack Me Up’ is the sound of The Buzzcocks relocated to California while ‘One More Chance’ is a swirling psychedelic surfer tune which has the feel of The Modern Lovers with a sun tan. Hot Sauce is a great fun summer record and you can picture these tunes blasting out of a transistor radio on Brighton beach sometime around 1966/67.

Released on 15/01/16, Hot Sauce is available to buy now on vinyl or CD from either the Howlin’ Banana Records or The Madcaps online shop. Alternatively the LP and CD is available from Bandcamp where you can also purchase the digital download. The Howlin’ Banana Bandcamp page is at http://howlinbananarecords.bandcamp.com/album/hot-sauce  while you can find The Madcaps at https://madmadcaps.bandcamp.com/.

THEE PSYCHEDELICATESSEN

Friday, 8 January 2016

THE ROZ BRUCE INFUSION – GOODBYE TO LOVE (CD, D/L)

Come With Me
After spending 2015 steadily building up a loyal fanbase through regular gigging including prestigious support slots on shows by the likes of the legendry Pretty Things and freaky festivals such as the very trippy Kosfest, the three piece Roz Bruce Infusion are back with another album of paisley flecked psycho dramas. Led by the prodigiously talented singer, songwriter and bitchin’ guitarist Roz Bruce, her band are not psychedelic in any perceived conventional sense……….the Roz Bruce Infusion are not about swirling Eastern motifs or interplanetary flights of fancy, they are more urban spacemen/woman (Roz is more likely to write about going to Spar and buying a Galaxy bar than going to Mars and flying through the galaxy). Roz Bruce has all the lyrical intensity of a confessional songwriter but where you would expect this outpouring of emotional rawness to be backed by yer customary acoustic guitar or piano and arranged in the perennial standard style of the folky female songstress, you get a squalling, bluesy, psych tinged, late 60s/early 70s influenced power trio tearing the walls down……… With solid, unfussy bass and drums from Gaf Evans and Dom Dillon as tight as you like, providing a rock solid platform for Roz Bruce to unleash her inner Psych/Blues guitar id, People it’s an oestrogen fuelled Groundhogs.  On first listening it doesn’t half catch you by surprise, as any preconceptions you may have about this band get completely blown to bits.

Compared to the previous record, You Deserve To Be Here, there has been an audible shift through the gears and this new record has more depth both sonically and emotionally. Goodbye To Love also shows that Roz Bruce is essence steeped in the folk tradition of storytelling, more or less eschewing the normal verse/chorus/verse structure for something more lyrically complex sung in her own East Midlands accent………..if the Roz Bruce Infusion were not so bloody noisy they would no doubt be a Folk Rock band. There are some really great psychedelically charged songs on this record…………the opener ‘Come With Me’ is a swirling, fuzzed up rocker evoking the period from the end of the 60s when psychedelic pop was mutating into something heavier, giving us songs like ‘Magic Potion’ by The Open Mind, while the rolling bar room piano led ‘I Am Not A Crook’ is charming clumsy funk that really should not be anywhere as good as it is. The album’s title track is an absolute belter…….a slow burner of a tune that builds and twists its way to scorching climax. Goodbye To Love is a fantastic, enthralling, emotionally red raw Psych/Blues record that if you liked the previous Roz Bruce Infusion album, you will really like this. If you are new to Roz, her band and her music you really need to check this out.


Goodbye To Love will be released next week (15/01/16) on CD and will be available to buy from the RozBruce Infusion on line shop. There will be a download available from iTunes/Amazon and you can stream it on Spotify. 

Sunday, 3 January 2016

THE HONEY POT – INSIDE THE WHALE (Mega Dodo LP, 3 x CD, D/L). THE HONEY POT – LISA DREAMS (Mega Dodo 7” Single, D/L).

For their first album release of 2016 the wunnerful folks at Mega Dodo have picked a blinder of a record from The Honey Pot, the Devon based melting pot of very English sweet, surreal and strange psychedelic sounds and groovy 60s tripped out San Francisco Acid Rock. Featuring members of the extended Mega Dodo family Crystal Jacqueline and Icarus Peel, the Honey Pot play a blend of Sixties psych that has its boots in the past but its head in the future, looking back to go forward…….drawing not only on the unique English inheritance of surreal, warped Psychedelia and strange, twisted Acid Folk but also frazzled SF style sprawling sonic adventures, The Honey Pot are from where the West Coast meets the West Country and someone has spiked their cream tea.

Inside The Whale shows that The Honey Pot have significantly progressed since the release of their 2013 debut album. Where To The Edge Of The World was very “English” sounding, name-checking a rich history full of the likes of The Hollies, The Kinks, Donovan amongst others, the new record has an harder San Francisco circa 1967 vibe while still retaining that core of quintessential, whimsical Englishness. The albums opener ‘The Outskirts Of Your Mind’ has the spiraling Folk Rock feel of very early Fairport Convention, if they had dabbled in anything more mind expanding than Real Ale, with Male/Female voices blending beautifully. The track is a good example of where The Honey Pot are now at and you can imagine that this folky, Acid Rock sound could have been the direction that the Fairport’s could have taken if they had not been given the address of Cecil Sharp House. The more surreal, high in Notting Hill Gate, 60s/70s counterculture vibe can be heard on ‘Psychedelic Circles’, a trippy Donovanesque “acid hymn” that in a very strange parallel universe has been a massive worldwide hit and kept ‘Please Release Me’ off the top of the charts in April 1967. Part of The Honey Pot’s evolving sound is that they are prepared to improvise more and see where it takes them…………the album’s title track is a blissed out eight minutes of beautiful, gentle psychedelia which ebbs and flows around Crystal Jacqueline’s wonderful voice. There is a more expansive use of keyboards on this record which gives the songs more depth and colour………….this works really well on tunes like ‘Walking On Eggshells’, which has a baroque feel somewhere between H.P. Lovecraft and Jacco Gardner, and where acidic guitar lines, rolling bass and Doorsy organ combine to propel the Psychedelic Blues monster ‘Pink and Orange’ screaming straight outta the Matrix Club sometime in 67. Although Inside The Whale has been inspired by great 60s West Coast bands such as Jefferson Airplane, The Peanut Butter Conspiracy, The Doors, It’s A Beautiful Day, The Sopwith Camel, Spirit and Love along with psychedelicized Brits like Donovan, Kevin Ayers, Kaleidoscope, Traffic and other bands that found heaven in their minds, it is not a "paint by numbers" recreation of the past. The final two tracks ‘Butterfly Ride’ and ‘A Curates Egg’ are both excellent pieces of modern swirling psychedelia that although evokes a sense of bygone days are, like the rest of the album, looking into the eternal now where anything is possible and the future is unwritten. The Honey Pot are taking the “Sound Of The Sixties”, retooling it so that is relevant today and in the process have made a really great psychedelic record that has now set the bar pretty high for the rest of the year.

Also worth checking out is The Honey Pot’s contribution to the Mega Dodo Singles Club……..for the first release a couple of fantastic tracks left over from the Inside The Whale sessions (‘Lisa Dreams’ and ‘Into The Deep’) have been selected. ‘Lisa Dreams’ is perfect Californian Sunshine Pop, an imaginary soundtrack to a groovy beach party.....a beach blanket bongout that the Shaggs are playing at. As an antidote to the dark, damp British winter months we can’t think of anything better. The flip side is a slow burning, darker, more menacing acid fried Psych number underpinned by rumbling bass and groovy drums. Imagine the Doors at their lysergic, swampiest, slinkiest best…….it’s a total trip. Released on 22/01/16 ‘Lisa Dreams’ is available as a 7” single with limited edition run of 250 copies with a digital download also available and can be pre-ordered from the Mega Dodo Bandcamp page at https://megadodo.bandcamp.com/album/lisa-dreams where you can find info about the Mega Dodo Singles Club as well.
Inside The Whale is released on 26/02/16 in a myriad of limited edition combinations which are available for pre-order from the Mega Dodo Bandcamp page, their online store and if you must you can pre-order from Amazon (although it won’t be shipped till 04/03/16). First off you have yer basic vinyl and CD copies…….the vinyl edition of the record limited to 300 copies in total is available to pre order from all three outlets with the CD, which includes 2 bonus tracks (‘Poppy Surfing’ and ‘Three Sisters’), only available from Amazon at the moment. There is a beautifully packaged limited edition 3 x CD set available which includes Inside The Whale, the tracks from the ‘Lisa Dreams’ single plus ‘Poppy Surfing’ and ‘Three Sisters’ and a recording of the storming set The Honey Pot played at the Games For May all-dayer at the Half Moon, Putney. Packaged in a special numbered tin and limited to 150 copies, this is available from the web store and Bandcamp. You can pick up these goodies along with the Singles Club package in a mix of assorted bundles………..check the Mega Dodo store for details…………………..oh by the way, if you want the digital download only so you can play it through your phone at the back of the magic bus then it’s Bandcamp or Amazon you need.


THEE PSYCHEDELICATESSEN          

SULA BASSANA – SHIPWRECKED (Sulatron Records LP, CD).

New for 2016 on Sulatron Records is a stunning album of really far out kosmische musik from Sula Bassana. Shipwrecked has been created by using a whole host of vintage analogue synths, primitive drum machines and the other instruments that Sula has accumulated over the decades………………evoking the sounds of the 70s/early 80s pioneers such as Cluster, Klaus Schulze, Harmonia, Conny Plank and Kraftwerk, Michael Bundt, Popol Vuh, the early kosmische sounds of Tangerine Dream, spilling over into the primal post-punk electronica of Cabaret Voltaire and Throbbing Gristle. It’s a record from an age before computer music, full of electronic drones, pulsing drum machines, sweeping soundscapes, throbbing sequencers and dreamy, spiraling synthesizers that has both a rhythmically intense brutality and pure transcendental serenity.

The driving machine rhythms of ‘Moonbase Alpha Alpha’ and ‘Shushi Express’ open Shipwrecked, both trancelike Kraftwerkesque shards of surging electronica informed by Krautrock and inspired by the pulsing synths and drum machines of Moroder. With the intensity of Neu! but with a lightness of touch from early 90s Ambient soundscaping, both tracks have a single minded, thrilling relentlessness that is simply magnificent. ‘No Time : No Eternity’ has a much darker, haunting vibe with a sense of foreboding, it is a stark, primitive electronic landscape as if soundtracking a barren future world at the far end of the galaxy imagined by the writers of the old Astounding Tales comics. With the title of the track Planeta Bur’ taken from an old Russian Science Fiction film, much of Shipwrecked feels like it has been written as a soundtrack to an imaginary 60s/70s Sci-Fi movie as there is very much the sense of this having a central theme and concept as all the tracks flow almost seamlessly into one another, giving the album a feeling of continuity. The title track is an exquisite sweeping soundscape very much in mould of classic Popol Vuh which eases into the wonderfully tranquil ‘No Way’ to close the album. Sula Bassana has taken essence of the 70s proto Space Rock and transposed it into the now, channeling the past to make a record that does not feel out of place in 2016. Beautifully constructed, Shipwrecked is a fantastic record full of the spirit of 1970s classic kosmische musik and a must listen for fans of the ground breaking German bands from that decade.

Shipwrecked is due for release 12/02/2016 and can be pre-ordered from the Sulatron Records website. Available on marbled vinyl as a limited edition run of 500 copies and also on CD. We really recommend that you give this album a listen it really is a magnificent record.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

SUN DIAL – MIND CONTROL (Sulatron Records CD). ELECTRIC MOON – FLAMING LAKE (Sulatron Records 2 x LP, CD).

One of our favourite record labels, the German Psychedelic/Krautrock imprint Sulatron Records, closed 2015 with a couple of essential reissues from British Psych Rock legends Sun Dial and cosmic explorers Electric Moon which we have been seriously digging down in our psychedelic basement.


Sulatron Records is now the home of Sun Dial, one of the most influential Neo-Psychedelic cult bands of the last 25 years. Founded 1990 by multi-instrumentalist Gary Ramon, Sun Dial blazed a trail with their debut album Other Way Out which practically blew the doors off the universe and the impact of this record has redefined how we now see psychedelia in the 21st century. With an ever changing line up since 1990, Sun Dial have mutated and evolved over the years into the still massively influential Psych Rock/Krautrock/Space Rock juggernaut of today. There is a new record for 2016 in the pipeline and in the meantime Sulatron have reissued the 2012 Sun Dial album Mind Control for your delight and delectation. Originally released on Tangerine Records in a limited pressing of 500 copies, the album now gets a CD release with two bonus tracks taken from the original recording sessions.

With the liquid nature of Sun Dial they are difficult to tie down to a particular “sound” as over the years they explored many branches of psychedelia, including Space Rock, Acid Rock, Stoner Rock and Psych Pop………for Mind Control the producer of Other Way Out, Hugo Chavez-Smith, was back at the controls and the album is a blend of long tripping guitars, Krautrock, and electronic wizardry. It’s an album that pushes hard at the boundaries of Space Rock taking the listener to a point in the galaxy where atmospheric electronic soundscapes, motorik grooves and languid guitars converge in a molten mix of psychedelic sounds. Not many bands attempt to cover Eno period Roxy Music songs……..mainly due to the unique sound of a Sci-Fi Lounge Lizard fronting a Dadaist Rock ‘n’ Roll band from the future……but Sun Dial have made a really good attempt with a version of Roxy’s most psychedelic number ‘In Every Dream Home A Heartache’. Although ultimately flawed due to the sheer brilliance of the source material, it shows that Sun Dial have a remarkable taste for adventure and their reputation for being psychedelic music pioneers is well deserved. The two bonus tracks, ‘Seven Pointed Star’ and ‘World Within You’, fit perfectly into what is an excellent record and if you missed Mind Control on its initial release, this reissue is a great opportunity to catch up.


Originally released in 2011 and much sort after, the stunning live album Flaming Lake has now been reissued as a 2 x coloured vinyl (LP 1 is blue and LP 2 orange) and for the first time it is now available on CD. Flaming Lake is four sides of epic deep, dark psychedelic trips with Electric Moon bending time and space on a fantastic journey to the other side of the stars. With one long cosmic jam per side, Electric Moon pilot their psychedelic starship into uncharted regions of the solar system……………..all four tracks are totally mindblowing and this long awaited reissue is a must listen for all you space cadets out there.

Both records are out now and available from the Sulatron online shop at http://www.sulatron.com/ where you can also check out the other great releases from this fine record label.




ØRESUND SPACE COLLECTIVE – DIFFERENT CREATURES (Space Rock Productions 3 x LP, 2 x CD).

Having recently celebrated their 10th anniversary, the prolific Øresund Space Collective are an ever changing group of musicians, mainly from Denmark and Sweden, that play entirely improvised Space Rock with around over five dozen different musicians having been involved in 19 albums during that time. Known for their epic live sets of freeform jams sometimes up to 5 hours in length, the Øresund Space Collective just don’t do short and snappy and their most recent release is no different………there is a lot of music here, spread over 3 x LP/2 x CD. For Different Creatures OSC mainstay Dr Space (Copenhagen based American musician Scott Heller) has assembled a group of his favourite musicians from Norway and Sweden, they have locked themselves in the Black Tornado Studio, Copenhagen with incense and no doubt other substances burning and let the tapes roll………..the fruits of these sessions have been edited down to 2½ hours of vast cosmic jams, many stretching beyond 20 minutes with the final track, ‘20 Steps Towards The Invisible Door’, a mammoth 45 minutes of face melting Psych Rock.

Musically OSC are inspired by many of the more current Space Rock bands………the opening track ‘The Ride to Valhalla’ has all the supercharged kinetic energy of Ozric Tentacles….. but also the proto Space Rock of 70s Prog/Psych/Kraut bands such as Gong, early Tangerine Dream, Pink Floyd, Amon Düül II and Hawkwind and the lysergic adventures of the Grateful Dead and Quicksilver Messenger Service…….jamming on the riff from ‘Eight Miles High’ OSC create a haze of tasty guitar licks, swirling keyboards/synths and hard-driving rhythms for ‘The MAN from Wales’ which is a homage/tribute (?) to the 60s West Coast influenced Welsh band who themselves are no strangers to epic jams……. but ultimately as all tracks are improvised it is essentially down to what the individual musicians bring to the party. There are two wonderful sitar based tracks on Different Creatures……..’Digestive Raga’ ebbs and flows through a river of contemplative calm on a 30 minute transcendental journey that soothes both body and mind while ‘Raga for Jerry G’ mixes sitar, pedal steel guitar and violin in a beautiful, meandering “Grateful Dead goes East”, a tune dedicated to the late great Jerry Garcia. This is certainly a record that is not going to be to everyone’s taste as it takes a great deal of commitment to take in the whole of this epic album, but dedication is rewarded with an expedition to the centre of the mind and back. Turn on and tune in to the Øresund Space Collective but don’t forget to bring a packed lunch as you may not be home for tea, Different Creatures is a very, very long strange trip.

Different Creatures is out now on the Danish Space Rock Productions imprint and available as a limited edition press (500 copies in total) on black or coloured 3 x vinyl LP or on 2 x CD. Available from the OSC Bandcamp page at http://oresundspacecollective.bandcamp.com/album/different-creatures or alternatively check the Space Rock Productions website for other distribution details.


Friday, 1 January 2016

THE LIQUID SCENE – REVOLUTIONS (Ziglain Records CD, D/L).

Strange things are happening again………………Postie dropped a very cool package in our post box the other week containing Revolutions, the very groovy new album from San Francisco Neo-Psychedelicists The Liquid Scene. All seasoned SF musicians brought together by their love of 1960s English psychedelia, a quick game of ‘Six Degrees Of Separation’ will link the band in some way to the Paisley Underground, The Dukes Of Stratosphear, Todd Rundgren and acclaimed, epic Beatles tribute band The White Album Ensemble (what the Bootleg Beatles would sound like if they were not so horribly cheesy), The Liquid Scene take inspiration for their music from Pink Floyd, Traffic, Donovan, The Beatles and the less well known sounds of The Orange Bicycle, the very far out "Wonderwall" soundtrack album, July, McGough and McGear’s obscure 1968 album and cult none-hit wonders Tintern Abbey amongst others. It says on the tin “Yesterday’s sounds……….today”, and that’s a pretty accurate description of Revolutions as it is a 60s referencing record with a 80s Neo-Psychedelic feel but with very modern studio techniques transforming the album into a beautifully recorded and mixed carnival of backward guitars, swirling psychedelic effects and mind bending studio stereo trickery that sounds fantastic on headphones after a few smokes……..Recorded in mind-swirling technicolour, it’s studio time well spent as it is the best sounding psychedelic record we have heard for quite a while.

Listening to Revolutions can be described as driving through the Mojave Desert on a psychedelic adventure sometime around 1969, high on peyote, flipping through the FM dial as familiar sounds drift out of the ether………bits of Beatlesque mellotron sound, snatches of the intro to ‘Dear Prudence’ the pastoral vibe of early Traffic, Eastern drones from Donovan albums and other slivers of classic psych sounds that all seep in into your subconscious……The Liquid Scene have made a really cool record that is part love letter to 60s Summer Of Love/Swinging London and part a continuation of the fantastic Sixties inspired psychedelic music that was being released by the early 80s LA “Paisley Underground” bands. A big influence on this record must be the excellent 60s fan boy/homage albums released by The Dukes Of Stratosphear (with a sly wink towards the Neil Innes/Ollie Halsall brilliant deconstruction of the essence of the Beatles for The Rutles soundtrack) and the kaleidoscopic sounds of bands such as the Rain Parade.  There are some really great tracks on this album with a few of the standout tracks being a sparkling Psychedelic Pop magical mystery detour of ‘Letterbox’ (watch the video here), the very groovy ‘The Mystery Machine’and ‘Leave Me Here’ which has a beautiful Big Star/Chris Bell vibe with a mindblowing, seriously headphone friendly, extended wig out section. The Liquid Scene have big love for the Beatles………………….riffing off the intro to ‘Dear Prudence’, ‘Hey Moondog’ is an epic hallucinogenic journey to the centre of the mind while ‘In My Water Room’ explores George Harrison’s fascination with Indian classical music and twists into some very strange psychedelic shapes. Revolutions is a beautifully constructed, flawlessly played and expertly recorded record that all lovers of classic psychedelia should give a listen to. It’s a total trip and so much more than the sum of its influences.

Released on Ziglain Records, Revolutions is available now as both a CD or digital download from CD Baby and The Liquid Scene bandcamp page at http://theliquidscene.bandcamp.com/ and download only from iTunes. Check it out folks………it will blow your mind.

THEE PSYCHEDELICATESSEN  

PRANA CRAFTER – RUPTURE OF PLANES (Deep Water Acres CD). UNITED BIBLE STUDIES – SO AS TO PRESERVE THE MYSTERY (Deep Water Acres CD).

Another parcel from the postie arrived at our psychedelic basement…….this time package of goodies from Deep Water Acres Records that included two superb records from Prana Crafter and United Bible Studies which have both completely blown us away. We have been a little late to the party (again) and were unable to included them in our “Weird Scenes Inside The Psychedelic Basement” round up……..however as they are relatively recent releases and still available to buy (the UBS album is now on its second pressing) we have decided to bring them to the attention of you good folk that, like us, were out in the car park stealing car aerials while the cool kids were gathered round the Dancette taking in these sweet sounds.

Prana Crafter is the recording/performing pseudonym of Psych Folk guitarist William Sol, who hails from America’s great Pacific Northwest, and the recently released Rupture Of Planes is his second album of wonderfully twisted psychedelia and sweetly heartfelt balladry from deep in the woods of Washington. Incorporating both songs and instrumentals, recorded at home as well as in a professional studio, Rupture Of Planes mixes together beautiful, delicate songs that have been compared to the early 60s output from Elektra and Vanguard along with more experimental/improvised, shamanic guitar overload,  lo-fi Psych Rock excursions. The five truly fabulous songs have more of a conventional structure and are studio recordings with dressed-up arrangements and live drums………… the excellent tracks ’Forest at First Light’, ‘Rupture of Planes’, ‘Fog Has Lifted’ and the standout ‘Tara, Do You Remember the Way?’ are all beautifully absorbing, predominantly acoustic, time-honoured singer/songwriter material, fragile but with a steely core and really fantastic tunes. The home recorded tunes are all instrumental cosmic jams from the deep forest with electric intensity sharing space with blissed-out serenity, third-eye visions with dirt underneath their fingernails. Prana Crafter mixes up drones, ambient explorations and full on, wild eyed Psych Rock guitar wig outs with ‘Diamond Cutter of the Jagged Mountain’,  ‘Treasure in a Ruin’, ‘Dharma Dripping Lotus’ and  ‘Prana Crafter's Abode’ being possibly the best of some really outstanding tunes. ‘Prana' is the sanskrit for “life force” and in keeping with the Eastern wisdom traditions referenced by the name, to the extent this album ruptures any planes it’s with the larger goal of embodying their differences on some higher level. This is a really beautiful record and would have made it into our best of 2015 if we were a bit quicker on the uptake.

Rupture Of Planes is a CD release only and is available from the Deep Water Acres web shop with copies also available from Sunrise Ocean Bender. 


Another record that slipped through the cracks at Strange Things in 2015 is the beguiling So As To Preserve The Mystery by the experimental/improvisational Psych Folk collective United Bible Studies. They have been on our radar for quite a few years but with the sheer volume of their recorded work, mainly self-released, we have kinda lost track a little bit and missed this gem of a record when it turned up on Deep Water Acres towards the end of the summer. United Bible Studies was formed in Dublin in 2001 by David Colohan and James Rider and initially inspired by the likes of The Incredible String Band and Fairport Convention. UBS soon developed into a sprawling entity featuring a revolving cast of members, with the same lineup rarely appearing twice. Pastoral psychedelia and traditional song have remained the cornerstones of the band's style, alongside collective improvisation that can take the form of extended drone-works or explosive outbursts of ecstatic noise. The fluid lineup of UBS currently includes former Mellow Candle vocalist Alison O'Donnell (who has also recorded with the fantastic British Acid Folk band The Owl Service), harpist Áine O'Dwyer and Michael Tanner (Plinth, Sharron Kraus, Mark Fry) who all appear on this record. So As To Preserve The Mystery like UBS previous records is an enthralling sonic adventure, produced by Evening Fires’ Kevin Moist who has captured the genuine essence of the their sound……. Evening Fires folksy, rural psychedelia comes from deep in the dark woods revealing the true spirit of “the psychedelic”, absorbing vibrations from nature and the stars and United Bible Studies mix of traditional song with gentle psychedelia and spellbinding improvisations comes from very much the same place. Voices and found sounds ooze out the rich layers of sound created by sparse instrumentation, drones and sweeping strings crafting music of such a beauty akin to being bathed in pure light, there is no standout track here as all the tunes coalesce into a single entity that is both otherworldly and rooted deep in nature…………music from before electricity. This is a remarkable record........So As To Preserve The Mystery is a must listen for any fans of twisted Acid Folk from labels such as Reverb Worship, Rif Mountain and Folk Police and the modern Psych Folk bands/artists who take the traditional British/Irish folk tradition and bend it into very strange shapes with Sproatly Smith and The Owl Service coming immediately to mind. This again is a record the would have certainly been included in our favourite releases of 2015 if we had turned up to the party on time. 

With their haunting, almost genre defying sound United Bible Studies are a perfect fit for Deep Water Acres and absolutely complement all the other strange psychedelic sounds released by this splendid, tasteful boutique label. Like the Prana Crafter album, So As To Preserve The Mystery is a CD release only and is available from the Deep Water Acres web site with copies also available from the Sunrise Ocean Bender web store. That Psych Folk revival we have a feeling in our bones about…….we reckon it’s on.

THEE PSYCHEDELICATESSEN   

YOU/SUN DOG – YOU + SUN DOG SPLIT EP (12” Vinyl, D/L)

Strange things are happening in the desert down New Mexico way…….and we don’t just mean UFO sightings. Coming outta the Albuquerque Mind-Research Lab is a very cool split 12” EP from two great local Psyche bands…….the strange and slightly twisted New Mexico psychonauts Sun Dog and Albuquerque neo-psychedelisists YOU
  
After a year of steady gigging, including shows with, amongst others, Orange Revival, The Myrrors and White Manna, YOU hit the studio taught and tight as you like to record three new tracks of bass heavy Psych Rock. ‘Vibe Gauging’ has a very tripped out Psych Rock meets Space Funk groove with a definite Afrobeat vibe, while the swirling, chiming guitars of ‘LOW’ is a tangled mix of Post Rock and Psychedelia. YOU’s third contribution to the EP is the excellent ‘Super Moth’, a vaguely proggy and somewhat deranged cosmic jam which rocks out with screaming guitars and a locked tight rhythm section before turning itself inside out in a hail of fuzz and distortion…….top tune. Sun Dog’s tracks are much more chaotic and psychedelic than the flip……..there is a groovy lo-fi, Beefheart blasted in the desert vibe about them. There are a couple of really great tracks on Sundog’s side of the EP where they stretch out and embrace the strange, ‘Share Your Love’ and ‘Compartmentalize’ are both the two longest tracks out of their four tunes and certainly the most psychedelic.......Sun Dog are a glorious mess of slightly wonky rhythms, searing acid guitar and tripped out abandon that's hard not to like. YOU and Sun Dog, although their approach to Psychedelic Rock is very different, perfectly complement each other. Checking out this EP is well worth the time, it's an absolute blast.

The YOU/Sun Dog split 12” EP is out now and available on randomly mixed coloured vinyl in a limited edition press of 500 copies from either the YOU Bandcamp page at http://youband.bandcamp.com/album/12-vinyl-split-w-sun-dog or Sun Dog’s site at http://sundogtheband.bandcamp.com/album/12-vinyl-split-w-you. There is also a “name your price” download of both bands tracks from their individual Bandcamp pages so you can “try before you buy”.


THE HACIENDA – THE HACIENDA EP (Black Candy Records 12” Vinyl, D/L).

Kicking off this year’s reviews on Strange Things Are Happening we have a very cool EP from Italian band The Hacienda who have been based in London for the last couple of years. Judging by the Anglophile sound of their self-titled EP, moving to England to make music has been the perfect place to explore their Northern Soul, Rock and Psychedelia influences and have released a record full of dreamy melodies, wild riffs and groovy rhythms that would be not out of place amongst the Manchester/Liverpool psychedelic scenes (the band’s name has been…….err……..borrowed from the legendary Manchester club). They already have heavy friends in the North with Liverpool designer/film maker Dominic Foster creating the video for the track ‘North Pole’ (watch it here…….it’s a total headswirler!!) and Ian Skelly (The Coral/Serpent Power) putting the artwork together for the record cover.

There is no denying who The Hacienda’s influences are………….they sound loads like The Coral, which is not a bad thing, and Oasis when they attempt to turn their hand to Beatlesque psychedelia, which is possibly a little more debatable. However they are not just a bunch of post Brit Pop copyists but do bring something of their own to the psychedelic party which you can also hear. Although the opening track ‘Indian Love’ has a hint of “Oasis do Revolver”, The Hacienda swirl it up more than enough to make it very groovy and while you are possibly not going to dig this if you are a psychedelia purist, it’s the kinda heady music that will get girls dancing plus the track has a very dreamy, very far out coda. The majority of the EP has the vibe of the early, poppier Coral records mixed with more of a classic 60s Mod/Soul groove that the better Brit Pop bands mined ……….. ‘She's Mine As The Sun’ and ‘Too Late’ are both absolute ass shaking floor fillers. The Hacienda EP is a cool little five tracker that you don’t have to be ripped off your tits to enjoy…..it’s very groovy, sharp, danceable Psychedelic Pop music that British bands used to make.

Released on 12” vinyl by Black Candy Records and also available as a digital download, you can find a copy at the Black Candy on line store or from The Hacienda’s merch page. Alternatively you can see if your local vinyl emporium can order you a copy. The digital download is available from the band’s Bandcamp page at https://thehacienda.bandcamp.com/releases where you can also stream the tunes.