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Psychedelica Vol. 1 (Northern Star Records)

A bit of psychedelia always goes down a treat in the summer, when you’re feeling all bucolic and woozy. Just in time then for these limpid, grey/green days comes this compilation from Northern Star Records who say: “We look to the future. Forget EVERYTHING you’ve ever heard before, this is Year Zero.” Clearly this isn’t strictly true, but hey, that’s hyperbole for you.


It’s quite difficult to forget EVERYTHING when the bands are giving you subtle little clues as to their ‘influences’. Clues like calling yourselves The Black Angels, The Electric Mainline, Daydream Nation and Black Nite Crash, do you think they’re trying to tell us something children? What we have here is a healthy dose of what the splendidly written FREE paper Stool Pigeon recently cunningly referred to as “the late ‘80s to early ‘90s Creation Sound” thus managing to neatly side-step the whole s***g*zing issue. Stool Pigeon were, in fact, referring to The Morning After Girls - a band who would nestle in comfortably alongside the likes of The Otherside and Snowdonnas on this record.

But as any git can tell you, the ‘late 80s etc’ sound was in its turn influenced by the late 60s sound which is maybe what Northern Star Records are trying to tell us, ‘Prepare yourself for the third summer of love’ they say. And just to make sure you’re properly dosed up, ‘Psychedelica Volume One’ features a hefty spoonful of spazzed out nuggets from the first time round. The full-on double CD (I’ve got a slimline 17 tracker here) promises the likes of Silver Apples and Electric Prunes (now there’s a fruit salad) amongst its thirty-three tracks. I’ve lost count of the number of Summers of Love we’ve had now, surely it’s more than three? Whatever, I’m all for rolling around dazedly like its 1967, and there’s a plentiful soundtrack for it here. That big fat beast psychedelia sprawls amongst the daisies whilst bands poke it with sticks from all directions; there’s gentle Barretty petting, bubblegum pop tickling, wafty-scarved acid rock slapping, pie-eyed dreampop stroking, brutal fuzzed up Stooges kicking. It’s a well-balanced selection of uppers, downers, spin-you-rounders and weirdly coloured ones where you don’t know what they do, but you take them anyway.

For starters there’s Lovetones’ ‘Stars’, a smooth and creamy Beatles-diggin’-their-LSD song, like ‘Strawberry Fields’ at twilight. Comes complete with dopey sitarry twinkles and softly phasing, sweetly hazing sound. Delicious, what’s next? It’s Dolly Rocker Movement’s ‘On A June Morning’ which nods languorously to a charming chiming beat and is cutely reminiscent of ‘Mindrocker’ by Fenwyck (who's 1967 single was possibly the first ever sighting of proto-dreamrock), kind of like The Brian Jonestown Massacre going for an afternoon constitutional. Speaking of which here are the marvy BJM, undoubtedly maestros in the field of the new psychedelia and a vital inclusion on this comp. Here we get the ravishing, heavy-limbed, medicine rush of ‘Anemone’. Woosh! Amusingly they’re preceded by a band who’ve decided to call themselves The Stevenson Ranch Davidians. Witty referencing of dodgy religo-freako cults aside, with shining eyes The SRD’s lead us down a shimmering reverb-lined path with their lustrously laconic ‘Getting By’.

The Black Angels 'Black Grease' circles nastily with its Spacemen / Loop sound – locking into a ferocious buzzing groove under which little ‘Revolution’ style bass runs trickle. Its one of those songs that could pretty much hurtle along forever through the ether, motoring on its thunderous drone power. And once you’ve settled in for the eternal ride, it freaks you right out when it screeches to an abrupt close. Black Nite Crash, on the other hand do the fuzz thing in exactly the same way as BRMC used to on a good day, glinty eyed and sneering. BNC’s ‘Falling Down’ and BRMC’s ‘Whatever Happened To My Rock ‘n’ Roll’: separated at birth?

The Hiss stride around the joint with ‘Cazzie’, lazily rolling their hips, confidently trailing a mighty psyche-rock slipstream, anointed by oceans of wacked out organ and spiralling guitar. The Electric Mainline smilingly hold your head under the warm waters of The Cure’s ‘Just Like Heaven’ as they blissfully splash about before wibbling adrift into a Slowdive stratosphere with their softly spaced-out ‘We Are Now’. Its soothingly more-ish. Daydream Scene roll out the most ‘traditional’ spot of sh*g*zing here with ‘A Passing Notion’, going for that expansive horizon-staring, achey drag on the heart sound perfect for sighing and flopping your hair to. Even the title is perfectly ennui-laden and slackadaisical. Plug in and swoon your socks off.

And what’s this tucked at the end of the record? Lo! ‘tis The Telescopes, rising like the ghosts of well, my past actually. But whereas once The Tels’ were intent on shredding our hedz (I especially used to enjoy ‘Silent Water’ for its noise power) now they’re older, wiser and infinitely more delicate, but just as unnerving. Building round an uneasy tolling, distant ‘Sketches From Spain’ trumpets and the static bouncing from long-dead stars ‘Winter #7’ slowly stretches and yawns menacingly in the darkness, casually displaying its fangs. Brrr.

This is music for kids with their eyes rolled back in their heads and their heads in the clouds; dazey chainsaw drifting and spacing, buzzing and fuzzing. Like a man once said, “For all the fucked up children of the world…” and as another man once replied “I’m one, I’m one. Yummy!”

R.R.R.G: Boundless oddball dispersion

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