- Phase / PHR83
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Two things strike me immediately about this record. First there's the cover, which is a two-colour screenprint on textured paper and is totally gorgeous (and perhaps mildly disturbing). Whoever printed these did a fantastic job. Second is the fact that the press release says "If it wasn't released by Phase!, it would certainly top a position in the 2011 TOP-13 albums!", which tickled me. It's a pretty fucking cool record, though. Five long jams over the course of three quarters of an hour. The first one, 'RUN', is pretty blissful '60s style hippie stuff. Phil says it reminds him of Jefferson Spaceship/Airplane or something...me, I'm too young to remember all that jive, yo. The next track's totally nuts, though, heading into dark and trippy territory with screeching vocals over an insistent bassline with people chanting along to it like Florence and the Machine attacking that Hare Krishna Husker Du song. Lots of crazy wibbly discordant guitar over the top, too. The closing track of the first side, 'Never Let Me Go', takes things back down a notch but by now it's clear that these semi-operatic vocals are here to stay. They're pretty effective, though, and this is the kind of thing that it's very easy to do wrong so that's high praise really. Actually, it's even kind of got a bit of a Diamanda Galas feel in places, but with more of a kind of stoner rock edge, I suppose. Flip it and we've got 'Keening', which involves some vocal, uh, keening, over an accordion drone and various clattering and tinkling percussions. It's a bit like if Bjork did some sort of psych drone workout, this track. And then the final track 'Water' sails pretty close to Joanna Newsom territory vocally in places, with just some reverby guitar for accompaniment. In fact the whole album's pretty varied, with ballads and full-on freakouts brushing up against one another kind of like that ace Up-Tight LP that came out the other week (but not as rocky). In essence it's all mid-paced hippie psych type stuff with powerful warbling, but it's got enough of a sense of fun and exploration to keep it interesting.
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