Blended whiskey is often pretty second rate to single malt. But, we’re not in the business of reviewing whiskies, we’re a musik website and embrace the blend. WE LOVE THE BLEND. Getintothis’ Dave Abel does too, a rather refined blend from Chicago.
Cave: Psychic Psummer
These days it all seems to be about the blend.
Assimilating manifold musical influences from movements past and present into a coherent whole – increasingly, it seems, a marker of a band’s cultural worth – is a tricky business.
However, Chicago’s modern-day psychedelic shaman, Cave, do it with aplomb. On this, their second LP, they herd their influences – molten psychedelic rock, minimalist kraut-trance, a free-jazz spirit, even (if you listen closely) some early acid house vibes – with a keening pop sensibility.
The result: a gloriously fuggy musical stew in which no single ‘ingredient’ seems overemphasised or, indeed, out of place.
Much more focussed than their debut, Psychic Psummer displays Cave‘s maturing process up close. In a very general descriptive sense, imagine the mid-section of Whole Lotta Love, loaded on too much of that ole’ California Sunshine, partying at an early 90s rave with Neu! on the guest list. Or a Faust-like 40 minute long cut-up collage, that takes in the musical tourist spots of late sixties Detroit (MC5), DÃÅsseldorf (Kraftwerk) and…er….Ladbroke Grove (Hawkwind).
It begins inauspiciously with a clipped guitar riff straight out of the Neu! 75 handbook, strange electronic buzzes and beams of sound insinuating themselves into the general mesh of sound until, BOOM!, a crazed Robert Plant howl kicks it off proper as the band burst into a crazed Rockist spectacular; all Detroit ’69 slashing riffs and stuttering bass lines (the bassist in particular has to be commended on this record), zigzagging through the mayhem seemingly in all directions at once.
Full of those Faust-like sudden changes in direction, the main riff turns on sixpence, as if suddenly herded into another direction by forces unseen, only to stop once more just as suddenly!
A Mars Volta-like Morse code epileptic electronic distress signal opens up the next track, a repeated wordless chant, the track rampages into an electronic trance/dance piece with an MC ululating wordless ur-vowels, shepherding the faithful onward to inner-Nirvana.
Side Two is the Killer. Opening with a squelch-ridden keyboard arpeggio, ascending some ancient holy scale, like a flower bursting into bud, as a fantastically repetitive ostinato bass riff jump-starts the groove, glowing fractals of sound skittering across the stereo band – very simple, very danceable and very summery!
The dance goes on, as Moog rainfall drips and splashes about this watery trance-funk pool, until the groove gets stuck on hyper-drive repeat mode, a 8 bar breakdown straight outta the Hac ’89: is it the track’s finale? Is it fuck!
The Groove Returneth, like some Freudian compulsion to repeat, asserting itself even stronger this time into the inner core of the cerebellum.
Overall, there’s a strong dualism at work here between the muscular but molten psychedelic rock of the MC5, early Zeppelin, Ash Ra Tempel, Hawkwind et al. and the playfully infantile, sugary melodicism of (very) early Kraftwerk (the jerky proto-dance of ‘Ruckzuck‘ for example) and the melodic wooziness of Zuckerzeit-era Cluster.
Another dualistic quality relates to the fact that the this LP works as well on the dance floor as it will the murky rock caverns.
Remixers like Four Tet should have a field day with this monster. Psychic Summer is an irrepressible joy to behold and one of the sleeper LP hits of the year. The only way is up for these neo-psych pioneers.
For fans of: psychology students, psalmistry, ps: notes,
Cave on myspazz