I love writing about music. I find it relaxing and it really helps me get the most out of a record. I get so immersed in the sounds and words that I lose all sense of time to the extent that when I read back what I have written I can hardly remember typing what is there on the screen. This surely is a mark of great psychedelic music, sounds that you can totally get lost into. In the four and a half years that this website covers I have written about many bands… but there are some that really stand out for me over that time. Bands that I have been blown away by live, and bands that have hit me again and again with their recorded music; and invariable both.

Here are a list of fifteen bands who have most provided that motivation, together with a key quote and the track of theirs that I have particularly found inspiring. I hope that in doing this you can maybe find something new and be inspired yourself.

 

Causa Sui

‘El Fuego’ from the album ‘Vibraciones Doradas’

With our ears suitably tuned into the Causa Sui sound/ philosophy the band then strike out with ‘El Fuego’ an eleven minute monster of a track which is almost transcendental in its approach. It begins with some fantastic drumming of the sort that Jaki Liebezeit would be very proud before the band pound off into a heavy yet melodious section that is both thrilling and accomplished. We are then brought down into a bucolic central section where you can really sense the band in full concentration, playing off each other and conducting explorations in their sound that dig deep into their craft… just stunning when you stop everything and listen. Then as the track begins to build it really takes you with it in a way that feels so euphoric it really is beyond explanation… but you know those feelings right? The band are locked in a rising groove and break out exactly at the right time into a stoner riff that takes the track home in a magnificent way. If the above quotation is a distillation of the Causa Sui ethos.. then ‘El Fuego’ is arguably its apogee. Stunning hardly does it justice.

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Cavalier Song

‘Shields’ from the album ‘A Deep Well

This is continued with ‘Shields’ which, and I’m struggling to describe this, again just works. The problem I’m having here is trying to explain just how it works. The words are mesmerising… the music is mesmerising… together the fit, they just fit. ‘Shields’ is more acoustic, more bucolic in tone as, to start with, are the lyrics. But there is something more base going on here. Although never spoken it feels like the past… but it works in the present too. In someways this album is timeless… there is nothing which really links it to the present, yet it feels utterly contemporary too. In addition, also like much of this album there is a great deal of humanity at the very core of this track. Either way I’m finding it to be remarkable.

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Dead Sea Apes

‘Pharmakon’ from the album ‘Lupus

Ding!

The bell at the beginning of this album seems to tell us that we are entering some sort of sacred space, and certainly the processive drone of the first track, Pharmakon, sounds to me like it could be set in a Buddhist monastery. Although the title of the track would suggest otherwise, it is, like the rest of this 57 minute album, a beautiful and etherial experience that one will want to sit and listen to rather than have as background to something else. It is ambient in the sense of being calming, but certainly not passive. Indeed, the press release for the album describes it as being ‘ghostly’, and while I would not disagree with this I would say that while this word describes a presence, it also suggests that something is absent; not how I would describe the music on this album. It is very meditative in a way that holds your attention.

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Dreamtime

‘Baphomet’ from the album ‘Sun

As it’s title suggests, ‘Center of Mind’ helps ground us. This is fairly vital given how ‘Baphomet’ opens with what sounds like some intense ritual cleansing as we pass into the Dreamtime realm. The shakers, chanters and outback noise forms a cacophony of sound through which the band pepper with pulses of guitar, bass and percussion. With the cleansing finally over it feels like we can finally enter the ritual space as the music whirls like dervishes before breaking out into the sort of powerful heavy psych that electrifies the soul…seriously, what a fucking track!

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Earthling Society

‘Outsideofintime’ from the album ‘Zen Bastard

Suitably softened up the next track launches straight at you, this time with a mega riff from the outset. ‘Outsideofintime’ certainly doesn’t waste any time, hitting the ground running. That riff stays in the background, coming back again and again giving the track an atmosphere of brooding introspection, the vocal adding the sort of edge that brings to mind some of the great psychedelic bands of the early 1970’s…in a totally great way. About halfway through though something weird and wonderful happens in a manner that could probably only happen on an Earthling Society track. In the midst of screaming guitars there emerges from the sonic wreckage a dub beat that at first feels incongruous but as it gradually takes hold it becomes a thing of great wonder. Rarely have I known a track transform in such a way, it’s utterly compelling and rather brilliant…I’m going to stop writing now because I just want to listen.

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Herion in Tahiti

‘V’ from the album ‘Remoria

After this the album returns to themes of decay and despair in ‘V’. The synesthesic effect of this track for me is that you can almost smell the open sewers through the music as the increasingly oppressive keyboards press down on the stark percussion and squalid beats. This is a track/ movement that becomes increasingly claustrophobic until the sound of angelic voices break in, perhaps not a ciphers for the salvic process, rather a siren leading the unsuspecting populous towards its inevitable fate as the occult organ breaks in at the end to seal the deal.

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Hills

‘The Vessel’ from the album ‘Master Sleeps

For 2’ 33” The Vessel powers through screaming reverb guitars, emergent organ, and a great droning rhythm sections. Then the mother of all psychedelic swirling TUUNNNEESS! breaks out. It is ambitious and euphoric in equal measure, one of my great musical moments so far this year.

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Kikagaku Moyo

‘Silver Owl’ from the album ‘House in the Tall Grass

‘Silver Owl’, a beautiful ten minute track that once again mixes alluring melodies with arresting harmonies to create something that is for the most part fragile and vulnerable yet towards the end breaks out into something altogether more substantial and confident with some well-placed wah wah guitar imposing itself over more acoustic element to great effect. This take the track home in a way that does not comprise the earlier beauty but really giving it a strong and powerful finish.

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Kungens Män

‘Natt’ from the album ‘Dag & Natt

If the ‘Dag’ album began in a laid-back fashion that’s as nothing to the ‘Natt’ album, the title track of which is hyper-chilled and just simply beautiful. I’ve already used the word ‘sculpted’, but that’s just what the tracks in this set appear to be, again something of a wonder given that these are improvisations. It’s like Kungens Män have some sort of sonic 3D printer that produces a finished layered product with depth and soul already installed.

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Minami Deutsch

‘Taitan’ from the (CD version) of the album ‘Minami Deutsch

Second new track, ‘Taitan’, starts similarly instantly as if part of something longer, and at just over eight minutes is similarly epic. Again feeling quite raw I imagine that this is an outtake from a recording session. However, that does not mean that it is substandard. If you like the idea of hearing bands who have just let loose then this is for you. ‘Taitan’ is an absolutely no-holds-barred recording that starts at lightning speed and just gets faster and faster. I can so imagine listening to this track live and getting thoroughly absorbed by it as is just buries its way deep into my spinal cortex and shakes me about like and alien sonic weapon…just sitting on the sofa here listening to it has me utterly engrossed…I’m literally just sat here shouting ‘fucking hell’ at the speakers…it really is that good!

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Moths and Locusts

 ‘Sea Hell’ from the album ‘Intro/ Outro‘ 

…‘Sea ‘Hell’ is a real contrast with a spoken word sample from Joseph M. Mauro’s ‘British Columbia: One Hundred Years 1871-1971’, which is placed to perfection with the a massive chugging bass breaking into… well… a melange of dub, folky flute, beats and rock rhythm section, before going off into a whole new direction as if the sea calms in the middle of the storm before breaking out into the tempest of styles which inexplicably fit so well together.

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Mugstar

‘Time Machine’ from the album ‘Magnetic Seasons

Then ‘Time Machine’ kicks in and takes it up another gear. Bloody hell what a track this is…starting at a fair pelt this takes you forward through the centuries like a starship overheating and heading for a final and glorious end into a supernova millions of years from now. This is a band whose star-date has arrived…intense, and yet spacey and open.

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Myrrors

‘Tea House Music’ from the album ‘Hasta La Victoria

So it is with ‘Tea House Music’ which is a moment of soul-melting beauty. The slow percussion underpinning a flute which just floats around the track before settling into the mix. Wonderfully meditative, this track seems designed to soothe and perhaps promote thought…to give you space to rest and contemplate new directions. Yet despite its apparent simplicity there seems to be a lot going on here. The influences are trans-national…this is music that is out of place and out of time…a sonic experience that lifts you out of where you are and takes you to a sort of neutral space (neutral but by no means valueless). Then, with about a minute to go, it steps up further as if sealing the ritual space…this also feels like very spiritual music…and bringing you gently back. Just magnificent.

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Shooting Guns

‘Deepest Purple’ from the album ‘Spectral Laudromat

The final track on the album ‘Deepest Purple’ is an amazing raw cut that is probably the most complex on the album, a huge monster of a jam that sounds like Deep Purple on steroids. This track is everything a great jam should be, an amazing riff that the band come back to time and again while seemingly slipping through endless gears that just keeps taking the track on one high after another. This number is nothing short of bloody amazing, and well worth the entry price on its own.

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Teeth of the Sea

‘All My Venom’ from the album ‘Highly Deadly Black Tarantula

The album’s opener ‘All My Venom’ begins with a monotone, indeed monochrome, chord through which the lightness of a trumpet shines through. This is overpowered by a huge electronic beat and the sound of a far more sinister trumpet, and guitar. There seem to be two things competing here, hope and alienation. As the track plays out it becomes more and more sombre, building into a huge crescendo as the scene unfolds; even with some guitar reminiscent of Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds: they are here! Who they are is not clear, more alienation than alien, but at just past five minutes into the track it explodes and the venom pours out: you can feel the anger and the despair in this huge moment of catharsis. This is music at it’s most powerful, music designed to overcome!

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