With this year’s Psych Fest on the horizon, Getintothis’ Patrick Clarke and Adam Lowerson delve deep into the line up to unearth some must see gems.
As the 2015 incarnation of the Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia approaches in the not so distant future, waves of pysch fans are preparing to once again descend on the Camp and Furnace for a weekend of cosmic explorations, visual wonderment and sonic enlightenment.
Over the past few years, Psych Fest has built a reputation for showcasing artists from all across the psychedelic spectrum, whether it be inspired by the original wave in the 1960s or its roots lie in Acid House, and this year is no different. From the much anticipated headline slots of Spiritualized and Factory Floor, who return after their incredible set at Liverpool Sound City 2014, to Merseysiders like garage rockers Strange Collective and GIT Award nominee Jane Weaver, all corners of the cosmic world are covered.
However amongst some of the more established names on the line up, there are many gems to be unearthed. Some, such as Death and Vanilla, Hey Colossus and Giant Swan we have covered before in our weekly new music column Unknown Pleasures, but others we have had to dig deep through the line up to discover, and have found some of the more off the radar acts who you can’t afford to miss at this year’s festival.
1. The Heads
The relentless live careen of Bristol heavy-psych veterans The Heads has become something of a legend for those in the know. From their early days in tandem with cult label Rocket Recordings to last year’s remaster of the supreme Everybody Knows We Got Nowhere LP their recorded output is a ferociously compact explosion of monolithic Stooges sludge and maniac thuds of caveman rhythm. Bring the earplugs.
2. R Seiliog
Earlier in the year at Sound City, Liverpool’s other best festival of the year, there were plenty of impeccable artists in which to sink one’s musical gnashers, yet even amongst all the standouts Welsh electrosmith R. Seiliog‘s set was something else entirely, with enchanting electro pumps soaring toward a maniacal Hacienda-worthy rave. Given that Psych Fest feels even more suitable surroundings for the Cardiff maestro than the Bramley Moore Dock, his set this September should be equally magnificent at the absolute least.
3. Fumaça Preta
The 21st century drug-baby of Os Mutantes and James Brown, multinational outfit Fumaça Preta have seen nothing but wagging tongues and spinning minds in the wake of their 2014 self-titled debut. Smokey spells of organ, fuzzed-up afro-funk and snarls of Portugese vocals make them one of the modern psych movement’s most endlessly entertaining of outfits on record; this, their Liverpool debut should cement their reputation on stage.
4. Black Devil Disco Club
There’s been an interesting collision of dance and psychedelia of late, and though headliners Factory Floor represent the arguable water-mark, their elder, the enigmatic Black Devil Disco Club should never be overlooked. Bernard Fevre has seen a steady stream of releases met with continual acclaim under the alias since his 2006 reemergence, capped by the vigorous pumps and disjointed vocal jabs of this year’s Disco Club LP.
5. Destruction Unit
Arizona fivesome Destruction Unit are one of many Sacred Bones Records signees to play this year’s bill, and they’re the most piercingly intense of the lot. An eruption of diabolic scuzz to bludgeon the most hardened of heavy psych veterans into submission, the group are a force of nature on record alone; in the flesh they’re all but guaranteed to be the most barbarous of heathenist thrills.
6. Blanck Mass
Also of the satanist church of Sacred Bones, Blanck Mass is the monolithic side-project of Fuck Buttons‘ Benjamin John Power, and can more than match his day-job in trademark intensity. Keeping the titanic sonic rushes of his main outfit but chopping them up into throbbing punches of gnarled electro, his second album under the name, Dumb Flesh, is as good as anything he’s ever released. And that’s saying something.
7. The Megaphonic Thrift
Coming as the latest in a recent long line of Scandinavian psych stars, Norway’s the Megaphonic Thrift take all the best elements of 90s shoegaze and bring it right to the present. The loose, jangling guitars washed over with fuzzy riffs and faraway vocals have echoes of Pavement and the Breeders, and tracks such Bergen Revels hint at the band’s knack for languid melodies.
8. The Holydrug Couple
It’s a well known scientific fact that exactly 1 in every 2 bands formed since circa 2010 sound a lot like Tame Impala, and while Chile’s the Holydrug Couple have certainly been using the same blueprint, they’ve chewed it up and spat out something far gloomier. Representing their fellow countrymen BYM Records on the Sacred Bones v BYM stage at this year’s festival, their combination of deep wandering bass lines, swimming amongst a sea of shimmering synths make for a dreamy affair, and the duo are sure to be mesmerising live performers this coming September.
With a sound giving an appreciative nod back to 1960s Eastern inspired psychedelia, relative newcomers PAUW give the sitar laden stylings of Sgt Pepper era Beatles a new lease of life. With only one track currently available online in Shambhala, the group have hinted at a multi-layered wall of sound, and we can’t wait to hear more.
10. Karen Gwyer
In keeping with the intense industrial sounds of headliners Factory Floor, Karen Gwyer’s music covers the whole musical spectrum from pummelling krautrock to delicate ambience. Her intricate and experimental electronica leaves new layers to be discovered with each listen, while her more hard hitting techno tracks are sure to make a live spectacle to lose your shit to. She is certainly not to be missed.
11. Death and Vanilla
As formerly featured on Unknown Pleasures, Malmo’s Death and Vanilla bring a recent wave of critical acclaim to the festival on the back of the release of their latest LP To Where The Wild Things Are. Inspired by a children’s book of the same name, their baroque pop sound is eerie yet beautiful as the vocals shimmer in and out of focus.