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Psychedelica Volume 2 – Various (Northern Star Records)

So you got hold of Psychedelica Vol.1 and spent last summer cocooned in a tripped out mix of floatily blissed twelve string dreams and menacing garage nightmares, why would you want vol. 2? Maybe precisely because you spent last summer cocooned in a tripped out mix etc etc. Maybe because you can never have enough variations on a good theme (see the Nuggets box sets). Maybe because here is a heaping helping of new music to lose your head/heart to.

Where Vol.1 sprinkled in a few good old faithfuls like Silver Apples and The Electric Prunes amongst the cocky youngsters, this time round ‘Psychedelica’ is chock full of contemporary shenanigans. Vol. 1 introduced plenty of current bands worth investigating further and here some make a welcome return; The Lovetones, The Stevenson Ranch Davidians, The Dolly Rocker Movement, Texan superstars The Black Angels, plus there’s a whole load of spanking new stuff to explore.

Belles Will Ring kick-start proceedings promisingly by coming across like The Byrds at their most blissed before wrapping themselves in a billowy Brian Jonestown-style guitar solo on the hazy ‘The Coldest Heart’. The Quarter After, who include in their number the BJM’s keyboard man Rob Campanella, also go for a Byrdsy vibe on ‘Too Much To Think About’, this time coated with a delectable Paisley Underground sheen. Keeping it in the family with an ex-Warlock in their midst are The Pandas who charm with the lazily kaleidoscoping ‘Crystal Highway’. Later on, Riff Random take up the Jonestown baton, driving their guitars wildly through the sky-kissing ‘Dead Eyes’. The Nova Saints and Heroes of Switzerland both take the simple yet effective step of chucking in loads of stratospheric guitar noise which will tickle the fancy of any passing shoe-gaze sweethearts. Florian’s ‘Heavium’ is perfectly titled – an echoey, doomy, blackness of sinuous sound that winds itself round the heels of ‘Venus In Furs’, and comes complete with authentic backwards guitar coda. The ever-magical Flowers of Hell win the prize for using the most interesting mix of instrumentation on the sumptuous ‘Compound Fractures’, an opiated lament of mournful saw, muted trumpet, viola and piano.

Even the hearty selection (35 tracks!) presented here represents but a toe dampening dip into the vast psych ocean, and the holy canon of The Byrds and The Velvet Underground is plundered mercilessly (hey, why not? That’s what they’re there for), as guitars are contorted into a prescribed set of recognisably loveable shapes: shivery shoegaze, darkling drones, garagey growls, drifty dreampop, acid-tinged antics, but this is a pleasingly wide reaching collection. Compare the minimalist, unsettling electro-ambient warping of Perfect Blue’s bad tripping ‘Empty Dreams’ with the leafy lushness of the adorable Soft Hearted Scientists and their twinkling jewel of rural dazedelia ‘Brother Sister’. Or the way Asteroid #4 put fifties croon through a dreampop blender, liquefying it into the tinglingly epic swayathon of ‘Find My Way Back Home’, whilst round Mainline’s gaff, the JAMC influence lies heavy. Check out the Reidian ‘Black Honey’ (yes even the title gives the game away) with its perfunctory, yet perfect Williamesque guitar ‘solo’. Try Their Hearts Were Full Of Spring’s ‘Out Of Sight Out Of Mind’ a glorious saturated colour swoon of vintage Disneyish frolicking. Or The Deaths (crazy name crazy guys - probably) who recall those old Bam Caruso collections of deranged psychedelic shenanigans with their spaced odyssey ‘May Queen’. Sydney sweethearts The Dolly Rocker Movement belie their cutesy name with ‘What’s That Sound?’ an evil hoodoo tribal thump that breaks into a Dandyish organ wig-out. Also making a stand for Aussie psych supremacy is ’Sound and Fury’ a strumadelic slice of Lovetones loveliness, crunchily topped with an organ/bongo freakout.

The good thing in this age of play-lists and not listening to an album’s tracks in its pre-determined order is that you can pull out all your faves (and there are some corkers to choose from here) to make up your own Psychedelica album. Hey why not add in tracks from vol. 1 while you’re at it. Make it an epic. Make it so you never have to come down.

www.northernstarrecords.co.uk

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