I have to admit that I’ve had this album sitting on my review list for quite a while now. There was something about it that made me hesitate and for a good while I could not really work out what it was. As music fans we all come with baggage from our sonic biographies and I’ve finally worked out why my own past was interfering with the way I listened to this album. I realised that the vocal on this album was dragging me away from the music behind it, because it reminded me of a lot of stuff I listened to in the nineties.
In a nutshell my musical journey around that time began with the likes of The Stone Roses and Happy Mondays, and eventually led me to Spiritualised and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. It was a sonic safari that took me through indie and out the other side again. This is strange because Sean Jardenbæk’s vocals on this weirdly repeat that journey sounding like The Charlatans’ Tim Burgess (Drugs Help), Sean Ryder (Something I Can’t Place), Liam Gallagher (Mad Seeds), and finally Jason Spaceman (Lean Down On White). Once I had got my head round that I was able to enjoy this terrific record much more.
This is a really good psychedelic album at its core. The opening track, Drugs Help, is a brilliantly whoosy number which straight away has you drifting off in all sorts of technicolour dreamscapes. It, like the rest of this album, is the psychedelic oil projector sonically personified. ‘Something I Can Place’ has a harder edge to it thanks to some heavy hitting drums and angular guitar, but it is also full of the best sort of fuzz with some lovely synth moments from Baby Woodrose’s Kåre Jensen.
The drone that begins ‘Dark Kashmir’ is quickly infested with some heavily effected guitar sounds and etherial vocals that give the track a claustrophobic feel, the album was recorded over a four month period in a dark room in an old air raid shelter. It is a track that only really gets going towards the end and really encourages some heavy introverted vibes. Following this ‘Your Fingers Stir The Liquid Moon’ lightens the mood to some extent. Here the meditative vocals begin much further back in the mix, while the pulses and drones of the music take centre stage. This again feels like a track born out of a strange dream in that it seems to inhabit that liminal state between sleeping and waking.
If anything things get more freakish with ‘Closer Again’. Here you can feel the walls closing in, an inner journey perhaps being the only escape from the life oppressive before ‘Strange Apples’ explodes into life. Probably the most uptempo track on the album it never fully escapes the inward looking nature of the record, but it does provide an escape route to reality; even though the end of that particular tunnel is never quite reached.
‘Mad Seeds’ has the band working on the chain gang down a mine, the percussive sound of metal on metal setting the scene for another dark effect-laden opus, a further journey away from sanity and into the realm of the paranoid. From this point the album only gets more dark and inward looking, and while having elements of shoegaze in it, it is more like ‘soulgaze’.
‘Dead Spaces, as the title suggests, is redolent with dankness, of the caverns where the only sound is that of the mind altering perception until the already bleak surrounding become the fodder for nightmares and heavy thoughts, while ‘Lean Down on White’ is a much calmer and meditative track that suggests some sort of resolution. Yet with its early Spitiualized vibe, that outcome is more than likely pharmaceutical.
As you will have guessed by now, this Telstar Sound Drone album is not an easy listen. It is dark, it is claustrophobic, and it does reflect the surroundings in which it was recorded. Nevertheless, this is very much a psychedelic album and that suggests escape. This is an album that can accompany you on your own inner journey, and while you might not like all the places that it takes you you are, in the end, left with a feeling of have been challenged and unburdened.
‘Magical Solutions for Everyday Struggles is released on Bad Afro Records on 18th March 2016.