King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Flying Microtonal Banana

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[ Flightless Records, 2017 ]

Flying Microtonal Banana is the first installment in the Australian band’s King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard ambitious plan to release 5 full length albums in 2017. And if they keep it as fresh with the four remaining albums as they do with this one, the year of 2017 might be theirs. Their electrifying mixture of microtonal music, psychedelic rock and krautrock is like a bomb being dropped on the musical year 2017: an energetic take on psychedelic music with an ear for great melody and intriguing compositional ideas, especially the microtones, which provide a great, off-kilter quality to the already trippy rock amassed on the album. Flying Microtonal Banana is one hell of a trans-African trip that’s sure to take you to the Great Beyond and back. Highly recommended!


Hills – Hills

 

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[ Sky Lantern, 2017, originally released in 2009 ]

Here’s an album I totally love coming back to: the self-titled debut LP by the Swedish based psych experts Hills, reissued on vinyl by the American label Sky Lantern (unfortunately not available anymore, sorry for being a slowpoke). Taking cues from their country’s rich tradition of head music and a lot of krautrock rhythms Hills have created a fully captivating and organic album that fits perfectly both for those beginning their adventure in psychedelic rock and the seasoned trippers who went on countless trips into the Great Beyond. Now sit back, light one up and let the Scandinavian psychedelic sensation take over your brain and body. Highly recommended!


UFO Över Lappland – UFO Över Lappland

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[ Fluere Tapes, 2016 ]

There’s one thing I’ve noticed missing in the blog posts lately: ROCK!!! Be it psych, kraut, space or stoner rock – this blogs needs MORE of that! The counter-electronic offensive starts with a tape from the Swedish band UFO Över Lappland with its heavy metal umlaut showing promise of some amplifier worship. Well, it’s not exactly super-heavy, but it’s definitely super-heady! The steady, krauty rhythm is about the only thing that anchors them to solid ground – everything else is far out in space, baby! Fuzzy, overdriven, reverbed, it’s all about meaty basslines and trippy distortions! That’s what psych rock should be all about, a sound to get completely lost in and stop giving a fuck about the outside world. Highly recommended!


Innercity Ensemble – III

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[ Instant Classic, 2016 ]

On their third studio album, the Polish band Innercity Ensemble keeps their central idea of improvisation strong, but this time the music is more concise and rhythm driven. Despite a double album (like it was in the case of II), they go for a shorter, yet fuller experience, balancing between tribal trance and jazz aesthetics. What stands out here is the amazing drumming – everything else is subject to it, it’s the rhythm that rules the album. Innercity Ensemble is a supergroup – but not a kind of supergroup that has some big names in the roster and releases something mediocre. They do exactly the opposite: their cooperation on III is so perfect they might as well be one organism. And they manage to express their organic approach to improvisation and psychedelia with truly magnetic power. Highly recommended!


Fresh Snow – One

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[ Hand Drawn Dracula, 2016 ]

The neo-krautrock unit Fresh Snow might be one of Toronto’s freshest new bands to emerge in the last few years. They offer a highly emotional tone of psychedelia with some fixation on a steady, motorik-ish beat every once in a while. But they also seee no problem in going into a piano ballad or a new wave beat with its retrofuturistic feel. In some songs they can really kick a punch, like the autobahn punk of “January Skies” or the space rock homage of “I Can’t Die”. With some compositions, they like to go to Pink Floyd inspired soundscapes, like the ambiental suite “I Am Smitten With Your Wrath” or “Anytime Minutes”. A quite original psychedelic experience. Recommended!


Modality – Under the Shadow of This Red Rock

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[ House of Watts, 2016 ]

Since the time of my 2012 review of Particle City, the Missoula based gang of psychedelic star-gazers Modality has expanded – both in the term of track lengths and musical inspirations, taking more cues from psychedelic rock, blues rock and German progressive electronics. The sound of the new LP is much more varied and stretched, like the liquid psych rock of “Rarefied Airwaves”, the fried blues of “Bullfrog Boyman” or the Berlinesque soundscape “Curtis’ Music Hall”. Sometimes the styles are mixed and a propelling krautrock beats are ignited (“I Will Show You Fear In a Handful of Dust”) or there is a straight-up Skullflower-like guitar distortion madness, like on “The Savage Sea of Krul”. A crazy record, very multilayered trip. Highly recommended!


Kikagaku Moyo – House in the Tall Grass

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[ Guruguru Brain, 2016 ]

Japanese psych rockers Kikagaku Moyo (“Geometric Patterns”) return with a new LP House in the Tall Grass, proving that Japanese psychedelia is alive and very well, and showing another why example it is considered a trip-rock superpower. And I’d be surprised if there turned out to be a finer psychedelic rock album in the whole year 2016. Because the new album is amazing – maybe not groundbreaking or anything, but a collection of straight-up folk soothers, smoothly echoing and lulling with bucolic melodies and fuzzy killers with completely hypnotic krautrocky rhythms and insane guitar soloing with some amazing, brain-melting distortion slapped on. Kikagaku Moyo make me see geometric patterns all over the place – and I want MORE! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!