This Autumn is turning out to be a pretty exciting time for psych fans with a whole slew of new albums coming out. Of these one of my more anticipated releases is the second album from Anthroprophh, the project from Paul Allen of brilliant Bristol psych noise band The Heads. I have been looking forward to hearing it because, while the first eponymously titled album was very good I had heard an even more promising direction from the recent Cardinal Fuzz 12” release, ‘Precession’/ ‘Ebbe’, which showcased Allen’s collaboration with fellow Bristolians Big Naturals. For me these tracks were fuller and more interesting than the originals and suggested that something quite inspired might emerge through this meeting of these massive sound minds.
Outside The Circle is a monumental album: monumental because of the massive ritualistic sounds that pervade it, such as on ‘Albrechtdron’ and ‘See’. If it was a structure it would be a dark monolith which at first sight seems impenetrable but, as the layers are excavated, huge tracts of meaning are revealed.
Beginning with ‘Returning’ you get slapped in the face with a huge riff and a vocal that sounds reminiscent of Ozzy Osborne on ‘Planet Caravan’. The scale continues with ‘Dead Man On The Scene’ which sounds like the product of Jello Biafra singing with Ty Segall’s Fuzz (the Sabbath connection again seemingly present). This starts really intense and becomes more and more feverish until it is almost mind numbing (but not in an X-Factor sort of way).
From this description you could be forgiven for thinking that his album is somehow derivative.
It is more that Anthroprophh has produced something that it so different, so…well…important, that I am really struggling to place it somewhere where readers can appreciate where it is coming from. It has at times elements of Stooges/ 70s punk leading into more mellow psych codas (‘Detached and in its own mind riding a ghost train through a fairground it had built itself ‘), at other times it has that electronic eclecticity of Rocket label-mates Teeth of the Sea (‘Gottmelt’). But nowhere on this album can you say that you’ve heard this before.
It is heavy, dark and intense, and yet is strangely infused with light – which I guess is where I was going with the transformative monolith analogy. With the exception on the marvellous ‘Crow With Sore Throat’ this is not an album that is repeatedly hitting you over the head. Rather it is inviting you to commune with it. It does not drag you along, but brings you with it. It is, it has to be said, pretty insistent; but we have freedom of though? Right?
This is an album that is pretty hard to love in the sense that we often ‘love’ music, but it is an album that deserves to be listened to again…and again…and again. It is an album that will keep on giving and it is an album that is potentially quite transformative.