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VARIOUS ARTISTS – Psychedelica Volume Two (2CD, Northern Star Records)

Posted: July 8th, 2007, by Simon Minter

Throughout the 1980s, a lot of compilations were released that reflected the then-burgeoning interest in recreating the garage punk and psychedelic sounds of the late 1960s. Whilst this second volume in Northern Star’s Psychedelica series isn’t along exactly the same lines as those earlier releases – these new collections compile modern psychedelia, rather than bands directly influenced by the music of many Pebbles, Nuggets or Rubble-type bands – a similar spirit is at work here. There is still no end of bands out there that are creating music that reflects the blissed-out, amped-up, lysergically-altered stylings of the original garage punk artists, albeit reflected through the ouptut of a variety of later bands and movements.

So, this was never going to be a compilation that didn’t have a lot of musical reference points. Through its 35 tracks, the music here broadly falls into a number of styles that suggests some particular music of times gone by. The early-80s Paisley Underground sound of bands like Long Ryders or The Chesterfield Kings is represented here in the clean, melodic, straightforward music of Belles Will Ring and Floorian. Big Star’s brand of power pop, as prefigured by Buffalo Springfield and reimagined by Teenage Fanclub, is respectfully used here by The Quarter After, Goldrush and Riff Random. The unfairly-maligned shoegazing sound of Ride or Slowdive is an influence here on Heroes Of Switzerland, The Daysleepers and Sunsplit; and the heavier, darker, more repetitive style of Loop and Spacemen 3 is displayed here by The Black Angels, Mainline, The People’s Revolutionary Choir, The Voices, Hopewell and The Yours. There are also slices of music on these two CDs that contain varying shades of gothic, Cramps-style garage (The Dolly Rocker Movement), John Lennon-influenced plaintive balladry (The Hiss) and straight-ahead retro garage punk (Dust).

This continues from Psychedelica‘s first volume very well, in its aim to showcase artists working in a particular mindset. Like most compilations, it’s not without its slow points or likely-to-be-skipped tracks; but as a whole it’s an even set of tracks that certainly bears repeated listening. The standout songs are those that not only remind of music gone by, but move in more unique directions: Flowers Of Hell, with their mournful piano, violin and theremin mantra; Perfect Blue, with some subtle electronica; Say Jansfield, with a folk song that warps off into strange, progressive areas.

Independent music goes through trends and phases all of the time, but Psychedelica suggests that there are always bands that continue to trace a line from the late 1960s to the 21st century. Hopefully, more volumes will follow.

Northern Star Records

Simon Minter

Simon joined diskant after falling on his head from a great height. A diskant legend in his own lifetime Simon has risen up the ranks through a mixture of foolhardiness and wit. When not breaking musical barriers with top pop combo Sunnyvale Noise Sub-element or releasing records in preposterously exciting packaging he relaxes by looking like Steve Albini.


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