I want what’s behind the moon…

DSC_0409My Psychfest adventure now a flickering tea-light in the distance, I thought I’d pretty much had my fill of bands linked with the omnipresent “psychedelia” tag in whatever questionable fashion. Truth be told I’ve bought a few “homework” records on this basis that I’m not really enjoying. Seemed to spend a fair bit of time at Psychfest listening to po-faced bands, bass cranked up to eleven, plodding through turgid sets, surrounded by earnest punters, heads bobbing grimly, and I’ve come to the conclusion I can’t be doing with that. All a bit dull, if you ask me. Can’t even say I’m much of a fan of the ubiquitous Ty Segall – I can do small doses, but then I feel like a bit of a lie down, to be honest.

This feller is venturing out West in the New Year, though…

White Fence

White Fence, as you’ll probably all know, are the vehicle of Tim Presley, who’s been around for a good while now, releasing a whole bunch of records, including last year’s Cyclops Reap which I’ve been listening to a lot this week, believing it to be his most recent, until I discovered this year’s Drag City release For The Recently Found Innocent. This is not just me being slow (although clearly…) Presley is genuinely hard to keep up with – I gather he released three records in 2012 alone (including Hair with Ty Segall). What can you do?

(While I think of it, I can’t believe that rock musicians are genuinely born with a name like “Presley”, so I’m guessing he’s changed his name at some point – I really hope it was the Troggs he had in mind…)

White Fence records are trebly, twangy affairs, dominated by meandering guitar lines and generic psyche tics – managing to sound like the Pretty Things and Love at one and the same time. Anyone who’s ever spent more than fifteen minutes in my company will know that I’m a simple fellow and that this will pretty much do it for me.

One of the things I really like about a White Fence record, I think, is that Presley isn’t afraid to turn the bass down. I know I sound like my Dad at this point, but I’m a bit fed up of not being able to hear anything but bass and drums at gigs. Truth be told, it’s becoming a bit of a thing… Cyclops Reap, by contrast is full of shrill delights, punctuated throughout by loose-stringed, winding guitar breaks, venturing only occasionally into the realms of fuzz and wah-wah. It’s a record that apparently signals Presley’s emergence from lo-fi productions into more professional productions but really these things are all relative. You’d not really say it’s a polished record…

There’s not too much proper video of White Fence, not even any “official” stuff, but I like this footage of a set at something called Phuzz Phest, the first track, Anger! Who Keeps You Under? featuring the man himself bowing his guitar Eddie Phillips-style. Perfect!

A German Soft Machine

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Ah um.

While we’re at it, following on from the previous posts, I have some Swiss-German krautrock tracks to share too.

Klaus Johann Grobe

Having done a quick post on these two chaps before Psychfest, I bought the new album – Im Sinne Der Zeit – and did some proper homework on them. It’s a pretty good record, full of clumpy beats and melodramatic organ swirls – a German Soft Machine if you will…

Last set on the oddly shaped Blade corner-stage, with Besnard Lakes on the one main stage and the dazzling, wonderful Suuns on another, I’d imagined there’d not be so many around for this one, but I was of course wrong. The small area filled up quickly and soon get very warm indeed. In truth, what seemed like a very long wait while the three members fiddled around with leads and sounds, made more than a few punters a little irritable (by the end of the weekend, I was heartily fed up of the sight of earnest young musos pointing to the ceiling and mouthing “more, more, turn it up!” to the sound desk).

Anyway, eventually they got it sorted and kicked off into a marvellously gloopy, occasionally menacing, occasionally funky set, dominated by the syrupy electric organ of Sevi Landolt. The extra third member of the group was a bassist and he managed to drive the proceedings along with pace and purpose.

The two strongest tracks from the record – “Kothek” and “Between the Buttons” – made early appearances which launched a sweaty bunch of punters off straight away but did mean the set tailed off a little.

Again, quite a lot of “atmosphere” in the recordings but well worth a little listen:

Raus

Between the Buttons

Aufstand

Out on the water’s where you’re gonna find me

Allah-Las_Press_Photo-640x424Well, back from Psychfest. A good time was had by all – loads of good bands, a few average ones, a chance to meet up with a few old friends. Yeah it was a good time, although in truth, not as all-encompassingly brilliant as some of the summer festivals I’ve been to. There’s no substitute for a massive field to bask around in when it’s all getting a bit too much for you. Psychfest was, of course, a much smaller affair and there was nowhere really to get away to – it was a bit like being in a giant 14-hour psychedelic ironworks at times.

Set my recorder to “everything” for the weekend, but unfortunately (I’ve a feeling you know what’s coming here)… well, let’s just draw a discrete veil over it and say there was an “operator failure” and that I didn’t get as many sets as I’d hoped. Sadly, one of the casualties was a stonking Saturday evening set by Woods, the last that I saw of the weekend. They were really very good, re-frying the more pastoral set I’d seen at End of the Road to one that was a little more suited to the occasion.

I did, however, captured this lot:

The Allah-Las

Actually, this was the best set of the weekend, and sad though I was to lose the Woods one, if I’d had to choose…

Strolling out of the desert like a Da Capo Love, all fringed jackets and beatle boots, the Allah-Las looked every inch the study in sixties cool that they clearly are. I’d had to choose between seeing them or the highly promising Early Years where a number of my more-knowing friends were, but I didn’t regret it for a moment. They were brilliant.

From the opening bars of “No Werewolf” right to the closing twangs of a glittery 45-minute set, they were very tight and strutted through a series of tracks from their two records with a needle-sharp guitar sound and a groove that set a drunken crowd jigging and, well, frugging (no other word for it…)

Cracking versions of “Catamaran”, with all its Stones / Standells echoes and more of that acerbic, twangy guitar, “I Had It All”, “Busman’s Holiday” and really pretty much the whole set – all of it skin-tight, none of it straying over the four-minute mark.

Quite a lot of noise over the recordings, I’m afraid, but that was a feature of the whole weekend. Although that annoyed me at times over the two days, here, with groovy youngsters jumping about enthusiastically, chatting, singing along, it just felt like I was in my own bootleg “live” album in a Seeds on Sunset Strip style…

Here’s a little selection:

501-415

Busman’s Holiday

Catamaran

Sandy