Hi all, I collected some great psychedelic treasures I’ve enjoyed lately. Quite a lot, actually – I think this is a great bunch. Hope you do too. Stay safe & healthy. //Mertsi
Article image: Black Helium
Black Helium – UM (Riot Season Records)
The London-based psychedelic power trio is back with a bang. Compared to their previous two records Primitive Fuck (2018) and The Wholly Other (2020), Black Helium has gone more outer-space, more motorik, and even more robust. UM is a great record, highlighted by tracks such as the hypnotic Another Heaven and delightfully trippy Summer of Hair. Black Helium’s music keeps on giving, and by all accounts the trio seems like nice people as well.
GÅS – Vol.1. (Rocket Recordings)
I’ve been following GÅS, a psychedelic rock band from Gothenburg that, just like their compatriots GOAT, operates under anonymity, since their impressive self titled single in 2020. Their debut LP Vol.1. follows the single’s recipe in fuzzy, Black Sabbath-influenced heavy psych, but spices is up with folk-like flutes, percussions and elements of blues rock. With two over 13-minute tracks the band shows it masters longer kraut-influenced jams with confidence, further strengthening the trippy club of great Swedish outfits like Centrum, Lamagaia, Hills and Agusa.
My favorite song is the hypnotic finishing track 25öre, whose wonderfully menacing rhythm repeats over and over again until you realize there’s actually nothing menacing, it just gets a bit dark in space.
Albinö Rhino – Return to the Core (Space Rock Productions)
The heavy atmospheric downtuned psychedelia of Albinö Rhino has never sounded more intriguing than in their new opus, Return to the Core. The Helsinki-based trio’s previous EP nodded towards Black Sabbath, but this one pays the biggest respects to Pink Floyd. The album consists of one 35-minute song (on Spotify it’s also split to 9 tracks), and travels fluently from Kingston Wall influenced jams to heavier riffs. Good stuff.
Like what you hear? Make sure to follow Kolmas Korva on Instagram, Facebook and Spotify.
The London-based quartet is back with their second LP The Wholly Other. Their debut album Primitive Fuck (likewise published by Riot Season), which I put to my top psych albums of 2018 list, was a blend of powerful psychedelic groove and tongue-in-cheek-attitude that can only be mastered by a band that was originally formed for a special one-off Halloween gig.
While it may be hard for any band to surpass such a debut, The Wholly Other still carries Black Helium’s distinctive sound and vigor. Hippie on A Slab is the heaviest track of the album and the band’s evil groove is at its best in Two Masters. Death Station of The Goddess is a 10-minute hazy mantra that slowly grows into a fuzzy psychedelic storm like a swamp-demon-conjuring ritual.
The instrumental Pink Bolt, another long track, consists of sludge jams, heavy guitars and some terrific bass playing. Teetering on the Edge finishes the LP with a hallucinatory and hazy track that definitely has an acidic, sinister twist to it.
All in all, this is a sturdy album that keeps you on your toes. If you like Hawkwind, sludge sounds, Black Sabbath, Pigs x 7, swamp demons or just groovy psychedelic space rock that glows unholy energy like a purple pagan gem found intact from ashes of a burned forest, you should definitely try out Black Helium. Riot Season still has some LPs left.
Leo and Mertsi chose their top psychedelic albums, gigs and curiosities of the fine year 2018.
Mertsi’s Best psychedelic albums – TOP 10 (in random order)
Kikagaku Moyo – Masana Temples (Guruguru Brain) A dominating performance once again from the Japanese group. The band’s sound is truly unique and enchanting, their latest LP as coherent and otherworldly as their two previous ones, yet more laid-back.
RF Shannon – Trickster Blues (Cosmic Dreamer) One of my favourite findings this year. RF Shannon is not a very well-known name in the “psych” scene, but thanks to Fuzz Club who distributed his new album in Europe, I got to know the Texan’s music and instantly fell in love. Trickster Blues is a great album filled with strong desert blues melodies.
Our Solar System – Origins (Beyond Beyond Is Beyond) The Swedish band for me is one of the best psych studio bands in Scandinavia. With a gigantic 21-minute one-sider and four shorter tracks, Origins takes over the listener with a relentless psych-pagan element-bending power. Read my full album review in Finnish here.
Black Helium – Primitive Fuck (Riot Season) The LP was sold out before I had time to buy it, which still hurts my guts! Black Helium’s album is a mixture of sturdy rock’n’roll sounds, garage psych, kosmische and groovy stoner. The songs are full of such power that I was not surprised to read the band was formed in 2016 for a special one-off Halloween gig at a heady Londonese cub.
L’Eclair – Polymood (Beyond Beyond is Beyond) Instrumental disco-funk-kosmische smoothness and groovy synths hailing from Switzerland. I like to play this record when I’m hosting a dinner or an evening with my friends. Coke Mountain is one of the psychedelic tracks of the year – so beautiful yet powerfully growing that it gives me goosebumps.
Black Lizard – Celebration Of A New Dawn (Fuzz Club) Celebration Of A New Dawn by the Finnish group is a colorful and balanced psych/garagerock album that flows warmly and rocks smoothly. Read my full album review in Finnish here.
Jacco Gardner – Somnium (Full Time Hobby) I’ve been a fan of Jacco since I saw him for first time live at his home country Netherlands in 2013. He’s a fantastic musician and an likable artist. For Somnium he used old synths and other imaginative solutions to create timeless sounds. It’s a great album, though I expected a tiny bit more.
Kiki Pau – Hiisi (Beyond Beyond is Beyond) Take a path to the forest and don’t turn back until you reach the verdant end. Skillful and imaginative album full of folky kraut rock and epic Pink Floydish jams from the Finnish band. Read my full album review in Finnish here.
Hookworms – Microshift (Domino) While the Leeds band’s new album wasn’t as psychedelic as their previous ones, it was a brilliant mixture of indie rock and up-beat kraut influenced electronic pop that provided some of the strongest songs of the year, like Negative Space. Read my full album review in Finnish and English here.
Throw Down Bones – Two (Fuzz Club) Combinations of techno and psych rock have clearly been on the rise, and I’ve been curious about it from the start. Two by Throw Down Bones may be the best mixture of acid house and krautrock so far.
Best Live Gig: 10 000 Russos at Fuzz Club Eindhoven Out of dozens of powerful live sets in Eindhoven, this one from the Portugal trio was perhaps the most astonishing. The rhythm of their haunting dark psych masterpiece Policia Preventiva (aka Germinal) is so powerful, yet the band plays it chillingly calmly.
Most Promising Psychedelic Band: Love’n’Joy If their future LP (hope that happens soon) holds more of jewels like Come About, we’ll be seeing this Ukrainian band in the next year’s list as well.
Yussef Dayes and Alfa Mist – Love Is The Message (Cashmere Thoughts) London jazz duo Yussef Kamaal split up unfortunately after their magnificent debut in 2016. This year they both came back on their own and especially Yussef Dayes’ return with Alfa Mist hit the spot with it’s soulfulness and warmness. Its live version (below) recorded in Abbey Road is my most listened song of the year.
Jacco Gardner – Somnium (Full Time Hobby) Overall mesmerizing instrumental LP is a great record that don’t need skipping. Leaving vocals out feels like a good choice, they might have broken the dreamy atmosphere. Less baroque, more synth sounds in the spirit of Vangelis and Mort Garson.
Jesse – Fluids (Höga Nord Rekords) Even though, my expectations for Finnish band Jesse’s Höga Nord release were super high, Fluids didn’t let a long-time Jesse fan and a friend of Höga’s catalogue down. A side pure bangers, B side goes under the water and needs more time to dive to appreciate. Love to hear how Jesse’s music evolves with every record.
Spencer Zahn – People of the Dawn (Double Denim) I found Zahn’s album on September, but its magic becomes stronger now: it is a perfect soundtrack for dark and snowy winter landscape. Zahn conjures beautiful and scary world with his double bass and synthesisers. Not for dancing.
Kikagaku Moyo – Masana Temples (Guruguru Brain) Japanese guys can handle different styles from prog to psych to space rock. The strongest tunes for me are their ballads, Nazo Nazo in this album especially. Its video is also easily my most loved and watched music video this year.
Träden – Träden (Subliminal Sounds) New group by members of classic 60s Swedish psychedelic rock group Träd, Gräs Och Stenar. Over-an-hour length monster has such an engaging moments from the beginning it should not be missed.
Nu Guinea – Nuova Napoli (NG Records) Disco record from Italy (2018) that could be from Italy (1983). Favourite tracks Stann Fore and ’A Voce ‘E Napule.
Psychic Lemon – Frequency.Rhythm.Distortion.Delay (Tonzonen Records) Fuzzy and catchy uptempo loops make it easy to fall into the music. The awakening from trance comes in the last track which is more laid-back than the other four in the album.
Steven Julien – Bloodline EP (Apron Records) Maybe my most listened record of the year. Ode to Roland synths and drum machines. Long and groovy machine drum beats sometimes topped with gently melodies. Start from Queens of Ungilsan.
Earl Sweatshirt – Some Rap Songs (Tan Cressida, Columbia) Only 20-minute long album is a manic stew. Short songs neither fade in or out and the beats are digitally constructed sample-based drafts. More shades in Earl’s world than in the previous dark/slow album.
Best Live Gig: The Mauskovic Dance Band at Shacklewell Arms, London I have been a fan of the band since I saw their hilarious music video Analog Fruit last year. Free gig on Sunday evening was packed and sweaty experience in a small venue. Mauskovics looked like a group of crooks who were set free from the prison to play the gig. They played in a cheerful, hungry and sovereign way.
Keep an eye on: Spill Gold Kraut/psych trio from the Netherlands released a promising EP in 2018 and is convincing on stage too. Hopefully in 2019 we will hear their debut LP.
Hello again dear people, we’ve added dozens of new songs to our FRESH PSYCHEDELIA Spotify playlist since the last update article. Check out great new tunes from Thom Yorke, Kikagaku Moyo, Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, Medicine Boy, Black Helium, HolyMonitor, Primitive Air, Kiki Pau, Lorelle Meets The Obsolete, Throw Down Bones, Love’n’joy, Red Lama, The KVB, Domboshawa and Causa Sui.
Pic: Black Helium by Steve Gullick
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