Tag Archives: Liverpool Psych Fest 2014

Teeth Of The Sea – Orphaned By The Ocean (2009)

Teeth Of The Sea are one of those rare bands that makes 99% of music look as if it isn’t trying hard enough. Now with 3 incredible albums under their belts, they have become key players in the psych scene. They scored a massive hit at the Liverpool Psych Fest, heading up the Camp part of the Camp & Furnace on Saturday night and getting a huge garage of sweaty, happy psych heads dancing. Where did Teeth Of The Sea begin? Well, let’s take a trip back to 2009 and spin their debut album, Orphaned By The Ocean.

Part experimental noise, part harsh space rock and part soul stirring er, jazz trumpet. How would you make comparisons? A cross between Throbbing Gristle, Hawkwind and Chet Baker?!

‘Only Fool On Horse’ separates the wheat from the chaff, the psychonauts from the hipsters, with a full on drone fest before… that trumpet. A mournful, haunting, languid, gorgeous trumpet elegy. Like a combination of jazz and industrial, this is a horrific, nerve shredding trip. Would be perfect for soundtracking some of the dates I have been on.

‘Latin Inches’ offers delicate keys before a triumphant spaghetti western riff. The drum kick into a harsh mechanical beat. All in all it sounds like a steampunk cowboy’s final day on Earth. A vocal harmony calls from the next valley. The drums quicken in pace as the song passes the 5 minute milestone, then ominous stabs of bass underline our transition into the arid badlands.

‘Swear Blind The Alsatian’s Melting’ rides to glory on the wings of yet more sensational trumpet playing. Then waves of guitar noise and evil bass carry it onwards. Such beauty and such evil in close proximity, like a William Blake painting. Then halfway through the drums get frisky and metal guitar’s kick the door in, leaving the song to blast off and finish in an unplanned destination.

‘Dreadnought’ starts with another heart-rending trumpet clarion call. Every song has the best trumpet on it, deciding is not actually possible. Here it is thoughtful and emotional, but not sentimental. The trumpet is supported by moody atmospherics: foggy washes of electronica. The genius of Teeth Of The Sea is that the experimental is tempered with the melodic. Much ‘experimental’ music remains unlistened to as it is a chore, Teeth Of The Sea recognise that in order for music to reach people, you have to make music that people want to listen to.

‘Sentimental Journey’ sounds almost New Age-ish except with creepy vocal loops. What sounds like a harmonica duets with flat, clanging drums that build in intensity. Another soundscape that sounds like a barren wilderness. Post punk neon-scarred bass takes us into the abyss.

Orphaned By The Ocean showcases a band at the start of a journey. Dense, downbeat and highly evocative, this is a path that leads (so far, to MASTER).

If this is post rock then it replaces Sigur Ros’ wide eyed awestruck-at-beauty with an agoraphobic’s fear of wide, open spaces. If this is space rock the band gets travel sick. What this band loves is noise and textures. Their music is like rushing up to the toppings in an ice cream parlour and thrusting your into the caramel, the hundreds and thousands, the little silver ball bearings. Subsequent albums would see them hone their craft, learn how to refine their epic tendencies and move towards filling a dancefloor, but the beauty of combining opposites is what makes this album thrilling.

Zombie Zombie – Rituels D’Un Nouveau Monde (2012)

The John Carpenter loving synth band Zombie Zombie dropped an album for our listening pleasure back in 2012 entitled Rituels D’Un Nouveau Monde. Anyone lucky enough to see them tear through the foundations Liverpool Psych Fest should snap up their back catalogue, as well as everyone who wasn’t there.

Teasing with the slow moody synths before hitting the kind of head nodding groove they reign supreme at, ‘The Wisdom Of Stone’ launches the album with the sense of style and fun you associate with the French mischief makers. Numerous synth parts interlock and work in harmony until the final effect resembles the inner workings of a clock. Mixing a disparate range of tones and textures the opener beguiles.

‘Illuminations’ picks up the pace with a cop car wail and frisky disco back bone. With a slight dub undertone, we approaching the 2 minute mark where it gains greater solidity and some nifty sax stylings. The mixing of synth speeds adds a delicious fluidity to proceedings. As the song enters the final straits the drums get seriously funky.

The cover of Sun Ra’s ‘Rocket #9’ is epic. I’m fairly certain this was played at the Psych Fest, my memory is a wonderful haze of pounding drums and glorious euphoria. On record it’s not as good, but still quite brilliant. Like the music of Klaus Johann Grobe, this isn’t music that should be listened to sat down. Zombie Zombie have taken this song and turned it into a sweaty dance floor leviathan. As such this version suffers from not being 10 minutes long and this not being a warehouse in Liverpool at 2AM. Such is life.

‘Watch The World From A Plane’ has a more laid back vibe, slowly gaining traction as it progresses. Bloated and needle thin sythns jostle for space between percussion and hand claps. Around the halfway marks it is enveloped with a dreamy, cloudy haze before re-emerging with clarity, then bringing all the parts together in unison as we pass 4 minutes.

‘Foret Vierge’ has another classic Zombie Zombie pulse with a woodwind instrument that sounds like a sea-lion farting. Writing about Zombie Zombie is proving to be difficult when all you really want to do is nod your head, these guys know how to make 4/4 drums a work of sheer divinity. Sod it, I’ll be back later…

L’Age D’Or‘ has a Bowie-Eno feel. Rising and descending, with more of a motorik groove than the rest of the album.

‘Black Paradise’ has a thunder-clap drum here and there before sleigh bells see the song in properly. This has a low-key playful vibe to bring the album to a close

Certain version have a bonus track which is a cover of New Order’s ‘The Beach’, itself a ‘manual remix’, if you will, of ‘Blue Monday’. Maybe not as adventurous as you might have liked, this is an affectionate and vibrant take on the song and hearing Zombie Zombie tackle the constituent parts of a classic dance anthem is rather joyous.

Until they release a live album that captures them at their full on glory, the sheer going-for-the-juglar brutality of rhythm, anyone with any interest in electronica should check out Zombie Zombie. A rather wonderful band.

Gnod – Chaudelande (2013)

How in the name of shitting Jesus do you explain, summarise, or label Gnod? “Salford Krautrock collective” seems to be standard but “standard” isn’t in the Gnod vocab.

Having been on my radar for while, I caught their stunning set at Camp at The Liverpool Psych Fest. Given the unenviable job of following Teeth Of The Sea’s imperious set they turned the place into a pounding, sweaty temple of noise. Somewhere in between industrial and techno, but really… fucked if I know. All I can attest to is that is that it was a colossal experience that I would have happily listened to for hours, nodding my head like a mad bastard and twitching some vague approximation of dance.

‘Tron’ is simply devastating. The musical equivalent of a nuclear bombardment it reaches into your body, rips out your spinal column then feeds it back to you. The drums are the deafening holler of the grotesque machinery that powers the slaughterhouse in the lowest domains of hell. Even the vocals are swept away in this blitzkrieg of sonic skull fuckery. A bass riff kicks you repeatedly in the ribs. This song will fuck you up.

‘Visions Of Load’ has a stark rattlesnake guitar riff. It’s kinda funky and a way that sucks the breath from your body. It’s kinda like a vampire Zappa boogie. The bass throughout the opening salvo actually reminds me of the two bass line up The Fall had for a brief, glorious while. Encroaching the 3 minute mark it actually comes over all punk-funk, in between the stark drone swivels. As the song develops it whips you into a psychotic hypno-frenzy. Man, the bass is really funky. The beauty is if you took the drums and all round lunacy down you’d have something quite catchy and accessible with this little ditty. But they haven’t, they have created something to tune your body into. Gnod are like a cyberpunk man-machine integration. Creating guttural rhythms they turn your body into a twisted wreck of flesh and circuitry.

To say ‘The Vertical Dead’ is a change of pace is something of an understatement, Starting more like a Durutti Column track with bird song and what sounds like a sitar, Slowly, an anguished trace of the actual song emerges, like a diseased arachnid. There is the slightest hint of ‘Heaven Up Here’ by Echo & The Bunnymen, especially in the bass. Meanwhile the guitar shreds abuse like Keith Levene gone free jazz. Past 8 minutes it reshapes into a space rock glide with the scores of vocal effects riding slip stream. Remember the first ever film to scare you shitless? Think back and now imagine this was the soundtrack.

‘Man On The Wire’ with it’s tinkling, bird song and chanting sounds like we’re seeing a coven of devil worshippers in a low-budget Hammer Horror. Probably starring Frank Finlay. Those epic pounding drums emerge. It’s these drums that help make Gnod. Without the rigid beats this album could descend into experimental wankery. Instead this is experimental music you can dance to. Another fucking massive riff rules, all angular and controlled electric emissions, like a Wire song stuffed to the gills on steroids and fuck-knows-what. Past the 6 minute mark and the drums reshuffle and the chanting re-emerges. The bass carries us to the end of the song and to the edge of the Reichenbach Falls.

‘Entrance’ swooshes in on the wings of Tangerine Dream-y synth stylings and fevered drums. The bass speeds up in the fast lane like a late night juggernaut. Anxiety descends like it did during that exam you couldn’t be arsed revising for. The guitar takes control with Gang Of Four style short, controlled bursts. Rising to a glorious peak of blood and terror this is probably what a Roman war was like.

‘Genocider’ hits like a hurricane slamming into your body. Once again it’s the drums. Imagine Odin, God Of War hosting a rave and using you as the drum kit. 5 minutes in and  I’m losing the power of rational thought now, my body’s simply becoming a host, I’m being turned inside out, gutted alive. I think I’m blacking out, my vision’s going all woozy. *Colourhorizon takes a break, has a walk around the flat*. This is the musica equivalent of body horror, this is Hellraiser and The Thing going to work on you with hammers and pliers. Then just when you think you are becoming desensitised to it, they crank the fucker up some more.

‘5th Sun’ is the sound of wading face first though an underground river of shit.

Now, it’s safe to say that this isn’t for everyone. This won’t end up on the soundtrack of The Great British Bake Off. Though I may watch it if it did. However, anyone with an interest in the use of noise, drone and various forms of full-on dance music could be susceptible to being infected by Gnod. Chaudelande can fit into many people’s world views, the difference is that they push the boundaries and challenge the listener in a brutal experiment of body invasion.

Klaus Johann Grobe – Im Sinne der Zeit (2014)

After being lucky enough to witness their stunning, simply stunning set at the phenomenal Liverpool Psych Fest I happily bought Im Sinne der Zeit by Swiss trio Klaus Johann Grobe.

Truth be told though, the set got off to a tempestuous start. Running late and fussing with the mic levels when the crowd in the Blade Factory were getting fractious to get on with the show. When they started through, frayed tempers melted away and, as one, people began nodding their heads. By the end of the seat everyone squashed in seemed happy and euphoric from such a vibrant set.

Later in the week I was pitching the band to a friend “There’s three of them, one keyboard player, one drummer, one bass player and the vocals are all in German”. My friends response: “I’m in”.

Looking at the album song by song is a tad redundant as to be honest, the record is to a degree, slightly one-dimensional. Klaus Johann Grobe have a template and pretty much stick to it. But you know what? They are very, very good at what they do. ‘Between The Buttons’ starts us off with post punk bass with parping keyboards and frisky drums. With breathy vocals it’s all rather disco. ‘Kothek’ is the album highlight, with thumping beat, cheeky keyboard riff and vocals you wish you could sing along to. ‘Schlaufen Der Zukunft’ is also excellent: if Kojak had been made in Europe in the 70s, the theme tune may well have sounded like this. There is something warm and cosy about this song, like corduroy. ‘Aufstand’ also impresses with echoed tinny drums and heavy twanging bass. ‘Vergangenes’ closes the album by bringing the pace down with an end-of-the-night-time-to-go-home vibe.

A stripped down trio of three component instruments is part of this band’s appeal. A rhythm section with keyboards splashed on top, this band is an engine. It may be efficient but it can switch up through the gears and gets motoring. This is an album that purrs like an E-Type jag.

This is one of those examples where listening to an album sat on your arse at home is missing the point of the band. Places like a tiny concrete room in Liverpool is where these guys shine: getting people nodding their heads and dancing as energetically as possible in a confined space. This also helps overcome their problem with being a tad samey: when it’s 1AM you want repetition, you just want a plentiful supply of grooves.

Energetic, effervescent and downright fun, these guys will get you dancing. So get off your arse, get a bottle from the fridge and dance about your kitchen until they come to a town near you…

In fact, try it now…

Teeth Of The Sea – Your Mercury (2010)

Catch Teeth Of The Sea’s phenomenal, foundation shaking appearance at the Liverpool Psych Fest 2014? Curious to know more? Then have a listen to Your Mercury, released back in 2010.

What do Teeth Of The Sea sound like, exactly? Ray Harryhausen meets Ridley Scott. That’s Teeth Of The Sea.

Stirring into life with ‘The Ambassador’ is the bronze steam-powered statue that Jason And The Argonauts encounter and then awaken by stealing the treasure kept beneath. Slowly creaking life back into its metallic limbs it starts its slow, inexorable amble along the beach. Drums kick in as the coppery blood begins to flow, electronics screech and wail as synapses explode. Trumpets loops echo as the attack begins. Guitar squalls as the rampages continues. In just over 6 minutes this song acts as a microcosm for everything Teeth Of The Sea stand for.

‘Cemetery Magus’ (Keats and Yeats are definitely not on their side) has brisk dance beats and  building Blade Runner synths. More beats enter the fray then chiptune electronics. At 3 minutes the song is far too short. One of the dozens of reasons why they should never make a sequel to that classic movie is that Teeth Of The Sea wouldn’t be hired to soundtrack it.

‘You’re Mercury’ sounds like monks humming a score to a moody thriller soundtrack (the kind involving Liam Neeson scowling and a gun). An elegiac trumpet provides company for delicate electronics. Something fuzzy ascends then gives way to stomping, ominous drums. The trumpet rides high, like a funeral cortege of a fallen spaceman passing over a teeming metropolis. Then trumpet loops collide as the wake begins and the bass lurches through the song as if from nowhere.

‘Midas Rex’ has a sense of dread matched with some rather beautiful piano work, like a countryside vista overrun with rats. A siren wails in the distance, lines of communication have been broken, society is collapsing, but there is hope among the tattered remnants of humanity. Gurgling synths overwhelm. This story has no happy ending.

‘A.C.R.O.N.Y.M’ throbs into life, potent and dangerous. Demanding your attention by the sheer muscular power it exudes, this is a huge, vital work, like a new experimental space cruiser sat on the launch pad. Engines ticking over on horse powered bass until the dance beats kick into full gear to achieve lift off then trumpets and guitars blast the listener into orbit. Stomping, rollicking and vast the spaceship careers past planets and stars…

‘Mothlike’ returns to the creepy side of the band, being a collage of noise and sounds.

‘Red Soil’ continues with looped samples of dialogue from Paris, Texas. One of the features that marks this band out is the ability to be experimental without resulting in a pile of pretentious bollocks. From the gloom of noise emerges a hint of what is to come until a ghostly power invades, bringing metal-ish guitar and cavernous drums.

‘Horses With Hands’ is almost dub orientated with horror movie interludes and percussion to echo the falling through time we trip through every day. Quite possibly a Philip K Dick experiment into psychological time travel.

‘Hovis Coil’ ends with multiple trumpets looped to work together in a bizarre imitation of a brass band from a mining town on a moon of Jupiter. A rare jangling guitar saunters into town, like a plucky reporter from the big city reporting on life in t’ big smoke. Synths drone as the miners file into the pits. Drums stutter into life as the work commences, the ore being hewn from rock faces by replicants. Proud, austere and grim, like a Hovis commercial. Which was the first job of Ridley Scott, long before the noir future and existential doubt of Blade Runner.

Grasping with outstretched arms for a future they want now, Teeth Of The Sea are not only a very special band but a beacon of hope for originality and exploration.

See also: MASTER reviewed here https://colourhorizon.wordpress.com/2014/06/23/teeth-of-the-sea-master-2013/

https://teethofthesea.bandcamp.com/album/your-mercury

The Lucid Dream and P.H.P at Liverpool Psych Fest

Admittedly at one point of the phenomenal Liverpool Psych Fest I was getting tired of the bands too clearly in thrall to the Brian Jonestown Massacre. Uh-huh, you have 3 guitarists not doing much of interest and a mumbling vocalist, bit like 4 other bands I’ve seen this afternoon… Which is to say there are too many shoegaze bands around at the moment. But that isn’t to say there weren’t gems on display:

Let’s start with Purple Heart Parade, who continue to impress with their opaque-even-by-shoegaze-standards sound. The first half of their set (I did miss the first song admittedly as I was off buying a surprisingly reasonably priced pint) was entirely nebulous and almost ambient. Finally they emerged from the fog with ‘Petrol’ before hitting with a stringent run through of ‘Starfucker Blues’. Not for the first time I noticed a hint of Puressence lost in a pea souper. Vocalist Peter Cowap II is a rare frontman who only sings, which makes it a shame you can’t understand a bloody word of it. Seeing as he is clearly a charismatic performer this seems a shame. Toning down the effects could go a long way in helping this band. Looking forward to these guys getting more material recorded and released.

There were two stand outs from the shoegaze / drone bands, one of these was The Lucid Dream (the other being The Janitors, but all there is to say about them is that they fucking nailed it). The Carlisle lads continue their growth. Holding The Furnace in the palms of their ambitious paws they get tighter and slicker. Managing a 45 minute slot they showcased their new album not even out until next year. If it’s half as good as it was live it’ll be a stunner. It takes their A Place To Bury Strangers style noise barrage and introduces krautrock and dub, making for an intoxicating, captivating blend of styles. Highlights were The Neu! influenced opener which is excellent, the melodica driven dub workout piece and the journey into the heart of darkness of what is presumably called ‘Sweet Hold On Me Part 2’. The forthcoming album could oversee a brave new world for the band…

The Glass Moths – The Glass Moths EP (2014)

Middlesbrough’s The Glass Moths are difficult to pin down, definitely a part of the current psych scene they don’t fit into any particular pigeonhole. This is excellent news.

A lonely, ramshackle hut stands in the middle of the desert, tumbleweed idles past. A cowboy leans nonchalantly against the door, played by Dennis Hopper. He sullenly flicks the ash from his cigarette into the wind. Under hooded under eyes he scans the horizon. Suddenly a space / time portal* opens and Terrence Stamp rides in from Carnaby Street, eying up the dolly birds. Dennis, nonchalant, barely interested, saddles up his horse, ensures his revolver is fully loaded and rides off into the sunset.

That was ‘Your Next Life’. In other words, a languid keyboard driven piece with spaghetti western twangs which transforms into a 60s rocker.

‘Mothers’ conversely is the sound of a house party round at the Mysterons house with wine and nibbles. Space rock keyboards evoke Hawkwind, the guitar is again loose and the rhythm section ticks along.

‘Oceanhead’ sees Donovan floating through the seaweed. A puffer fish looks at him askance. One the beguiling things is how dream-like The Glass Moths are whilst still having a relatively frisky bass & drums setup. Trippy but never hippy.

This may be an antagonistic, but ‘Money Love’ isn’t a million miles away from an Oasis B side. Another superlative chorus and tight instrumentation that sucks the listener down into a slow motion whirlpool before whipping them into a day glo tornado. Expanding over a glorious 8 minutes, showing the band has the chops for an elongated jam. There’s possibly a hint of Television on ketamine at work.

The vocals are bold and authoritative, a refreshing change in psych.

Theres something rather glam at work here: recalling the skill and fluidity of fellow north-eastern exports Roxy Music with hooks of Bowie thrown in. There are slight hints of post punk and space rock. A touch of Suede?  To being us forward more modern comparisons may be The Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Sudden Death Of Stars. Imaginative, fun, confident (maybe even cheeky) and well assured. The Glass Moths should be checked out, this EP has some awesomely awesome delights packed on it.

*This writer imagines the kind of portals opened by Mighty Max‘s baseball cap, other space / time portals are available, depending on which decade you grew up in.

https://theglassmothsofficial.bandcamp.com/album/the-glass-moths-ep