Music Reviews

Alex Maas – Levitation Session – Haunting Psych Folk

Alex Maas best known as the lead singer of The Black Angels is at his best on this newest release. Maas’s vocal style is professional and iconic in contemporary psychedelic rock. The songs are haunting and rustic with swirling mellotron, organ and guitars. The music feels somber with subtle political themes and lyrics that oscillate between positivity and sadness. The performances on this live session are nearly flawless sounding like a studio album with crisp rich production. Jake Garcia of psychedelic rock band The Black Angels is on each song lending his backing vocals, bass and guitar.

Alex Maas released his first solo album titled, Luca in 2020. The live session has many of the songs from that album with previously unheard new songs. The music is folk with vintage rock and droning swirling effects. The songs center on Alex Maas’s voice and guitar. The vocal sounds wonderful with Mass’s customized vocal effects. He layers reverb, distortion and other subtle effects into his tone.

The guitars on the album are stunning with smooth execution and are always interesting. The songs have variety instrumentation and the keyboards, organ mellotron and other instruments are thoughtful and captivating. The skill of the musicians shines through in brilliant quality.

Alex Maas has been a significant figure in the psychedelic rock scene since The Black Angels came storming into view with their debut album Passover in 2006. He has appeared as a guest vocalist on albums by Elephant Stone and is a member of MIEN. MIEN is a collaboration between Maas and Rishi Dhir of Elephant Stone in an electronic rock style. Through all these projects Alex Maas’s distinctive voice and writing style is recognizable and essential.

Levitation Sessions is a series of live performances on videotaped and professionally recorded to be released on Reverberation Appreciation Society and partner labels including Fuzz Club. Reverberation Appreciation Society founded by members of The Black Angels and grew to include Levitation music festival originally known as Psych Fest Austin. Alex Maas has been close to the core of these organizations. It is fitting that he is releasing an album with this label because he has such close ties to it founding and team.

Highlights from the album include ‘Shine Like The Sun’ which is melancholic yet has uplifting lyrics that refer to raising a child ti shine like the sun. ‘American Conquest’ is droning dark and the closest to the sound of The Black Angels. ‘Elastic’ is a dreamy psychedelic folk song with an atmospheric backdrop and the lyrics ‘We don’t want you to die’. Much of the lyrical content is sad, political, or inspired by the emotions of becoming a new parent.

Alex Maas Levitation Sessions is a well done album that rivals his latest studio release. The instrumentation is packed with delicious tones and impeccable skill. The vocals are flawless and have a unique sound with Maas’s vocal effects. The songs are all strong and their only flaw maybe the moody sadness that pervades the album even when the lyrics are positive. This somber atmosphere is emotional, dreamy and psychedelic. The production is pristine and the sound is dynamic and highly enjoyable.

https://reverberationappreciation.bandcamp.com/album/levitation-sessions-9

USA Reverberation Appreciation

Innovative Leisure USA

Fuzz Club UK / EU

I am a part of the emerging psychedelic musical revolution and the wizard behind the curtain at ThePsychRock.com. I am lucky enough to be in contact with performers and labels around the world and discuss music that is weird, transcendent, creative and psychedelic. It’s no surprise that I live in San Francisco, California where the psychedelic revolution was born. I am a multi-instrumentalist musician, songwriter, digital and visual artist in the bands Temple Rose and Black Satori. I have written about music for the ThePsychRock.com, GigSoup Music, Sic Magazine and professional corporate copy writing. Discovering new music from artists large and small gives me a special thrill and I feel compelled to share the excitement. My journey began when I started attending coffeehouse concerts at 14 years old, seeing acoustic and hardcore metal bands. I soon started making music of my own. A pivotal moment was when I picked up my first record player and started collecting vinyl records from the 1960s and early 1970s in acid folk, garage rock, psychedelic and krautrock genres. The Thirteenth Floor Elevators, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, and Black Sabbath laid a firm foundation. Then I discovered CAN, Ash Ra Tempel, Tangerine Dream, and Pink Floyd which blew convention out of the water and my musical horizon extended into the experimental and abstract. Today there are thousands of bands which have taken the legacy of psychedelic music and created something new. I seek out these bands and performers, spreading their latest revelations to the world. Some of my favorite contemporary artists are The Black Angels, Oh Sees, Woods, Acid Mothers Temple, Kikagaku Moyo and L.A. Witch.