October 1, 2011
Who's that above? Why, YES! It's the triumphant return of The Olivia Tremor Control, the planet's finest Athens, GA, psych-poppers and co-founders of the Elephant 6 collective! Both they and Seattle psych-Americana chanteuse Jesse Sykes (she of the whiskey-stained velvet voice) and her extra-rocking Sweet Hereafter put on incredible better-than-merely-return-to-form shows as they passed through my neck of the woods (when I'm not satellite-bound) last month, so I'm starting off this set in honor of the two of them.
Electronic dream-pop newcomers La Big Vic capture the essence of lysergic dance music, whether 60s "happenings" or 90s raves, updated through various analog instruments and some 21st century digital. It may seem like I can't get enough Bailterspace lately, and this, since only discovering them this year, would probably be true, especially since I'm realizing how truly diverse their back catalog is - from minimal post-punk to angular agit-prop to swirling shoegaze, and beyond - as this foray into motorik rhythms illustrates. Another recent fave of mine, Woodsman also capture a bit of that kosmische forward-momentum and combine it with somewhat more rockist tendencies.
Speaking of the RAWK, let's bring this up a notch or hundred with a new ballistic assault from White Hills, from their Thrill Jockey debut, this track validating their rightful place as leading modern psych monsters. Even acid- rock is making a comeback these days as stoner sludge power trio W.I.T.C.H. aptly demonstrate (some of that inspiration may come from their drummer, one J Mascis, moonlighting from his day job as iconic 90s-era slacker rock guitar mangler and laconically tortured vocalist/songwriter with Dinosaur Jr.). Austin alt-metallers Helms Alee's second album is an even more exploratory affair, as they push all the boundaries of the genre. Long Beach psych-balladeers Crystal Antlers tone down the histrionics just a tad on their latest release, as this ode to SoCal summers tinted through psilocybin sunglasses shows. And speaking of psychedelic ballads (a theme revisited for the last song of this set), MV & EE borrow a heaping spoonful of grinding guitar pathos from their spiritual godfather Neil Young on this epic track.
The next segment of songs is thematic in that it's informed by the tendency among some facets of spacerock to wander aimlessly to a psychedelic mantra only these jammers can feel. Woods (not to be confused with Woodsman, above) trade mostly in fey fragile folk-psych, but at least once per album they include a lengthy excursion into improvisation like the one included here. More than a little Syd Barrett informs Woods' trajectory as this meandering instruMENTAL jam from his post-Pink Floyd daze confirms. The realm of improvi-psych would not be complete without O.G. krautrockers Can, so I've chosen one of their mid-period classics which melds disorienting dub groove to acidic guitar stabs. Related to the Barrett-era Floyd, I've included some material from their contemporaries (and fellow swinging London U.F.O. Club regulars), the jazz-inflected spacerockers Soft Machine, who were somehow left off my previous space jazz installment. Pan-European (Spain, Austria, Germany) "intergalactic psychedelic space jam band" Interkosmos fit right in with this theme, although I don't know much about them really except they must have extensive krautrock collections. And back to the psych ballad concept, Japan's Boris - who released two simultaneous albums this year, one refining their "heavy rocks" side and one exhibiting a hybrid breed of post-shoegaze metal) - bring us a crashing crescendo finale with this recent magnum opus. Whew! This set packs a lot into two hours!
For you traditionalists who don't mind streaming from this site, the following tracks should appear in the first player below:
The Spacerock Continuum Theme - bRambles
Hushed By Devotion - Jesse Sykes & The Sweet Hereafter - Marble Son
Holiday Surprise Parts 1, 2 & 3 - The Olivia Tremor Control - Music From The Unrealized Film Script 'Dusk At Cubist Castle'
Mr. Broken Bird - La Big Vic - Actually
D Thing - Bailterspace - Wammo
Insects - Woodsman - Rare Forms
The Condition Of Nothing - White Hills - H-P1
Seer - W.I.T.C.H. - Witch
Epic Adventure Through The Woods (Sucker Punch) - Helms Alee - Weatherhead
Dog Days - Crystal Antlers - Two-Way Mirror
Bedroom Eyes - MV & EE - Barn Nova
Sol Y Sombra - Woods - Sun And Shade
Lanky (Part 1) - Syd Barrett - Octopus
Flow Motion - Can - Flow Motion
A Door Opens And Closes/10:30 Returns To The Bedroom - Soft Machine - Volume Two
Hypnotizer - Interkosmos - s/t
Aileron - Boris - Heavy Rocks
But don't forget, you have the option of spacerock to go:
1. Click on the Kadoo logo instead of pushing the play button in the player below.
2. Click "download" when redirected to the Divshare site.
3. Once downloaded drag it to yer iTunes and sync it with yer pod - simple!