Psychedelic music is having a moment… Or perhaps more appropriately, an eternal cosmic now.
Whether it’s post-post-modernism’s accelerating stylistic-shuffle or part of some kind of Covid-culture’s self-isolated journey inwards to a post-human future; psyche, garage, punk or whatever ultimately futile bid to categorise its puissant energy you care to use, the form seems an ironically sober response to modern times.
As it was in the Year of Our Prophet, Lord Lenny of Kaye back in ’72 when the Village Voice music critic and future Patti Smith Band guitarist laid Nuggets on a nascent Punk scene and blew everybody’s, technically already, blown minds. Kaye’s hoard of rough cut yet majestic sonic gems looked back to a Stateside subcultural inoculation against the snotty Brit Beat invasion of The Beatles, Stones, Kinks et al with The Seeds, The 13th Floor Elevators and The Chocolate Watch Band chief among many others doing the damage. The compilation signalled, well just about everything else that came after, from Television’s cover of The ’Elevator’s Fire Engine a steady fixture of their early set, Blondie’s infectious debt to these AM radio one hit wonders through Liverpool’s Teardrop Explodes and Echo And The Bunnymen’s baroque lysergic swirl in the post-punk Eighties all the way up to a packed Glasgow Barrowland’s communing with an on-song Brian Jonestown Massacre last year, the deal is it never went away.
So now we have The Recalls: two brothers from Chile relocated to Stuttgart: Jonathan Neira upfront, brother Javier on bass with Julius Haager on guitar and Matthias on drums. There Is No End is their third long player, recorded during lockdown. For some social distancing has meant isolation. Turn off your mind and float downstream, if you will. Meanwhile, The Recalls have been sharpening their knives, honing their chops and getting tight. Uptight. Make no mistake, this is the brown acid. By the time we reach album closer Down To The River, the scenery is closer to Charles Laughton’s 1955 cinematic bad dream Night Of The Hunter than the exuberant innocence of Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, Itchycoo Park or White Rabbit. “I’m gonna reap your soul,” Neira informs us with a rainbow sneer as he retails the kind of David Lynch-story that usually ends badly. The Adam West Batman Farfisa organ is straight outta Gotham but one of the episodes that have you scratching your head with the sheer technicolour strangeness of it all rather than some pop kitsch nostrum. We are a long way from home Toto, there are no cellophane flowers here. Even the gentler melancholia of songs such as Cliff House betray an uneasy obsessiveness underneath the crystalline harmonies and chiming guitars. “I’m gonna get you back,” he sings and you believe him. While the urgent teen riffage on makeout songs She’s Coming Around and You Look So Fine oozes with a vicious nihilism as they pitch woo.
Further evidence includes the band’s stint touring with voodoo rockabilly legends Tav Falco And The Pantherburns. Alex Chilton may have moved on God rest his soul but the experience has stood them in good stead. From opener Moon Valley on, the whole record twangs with Link Wray menace, a Southern Gothic road movie starring Screaming Jay Hawkins, The Cramps and the photography of Memphis maestro William Eggleston. Nowhere is this influence clearer than on Sunset. If ambition and commitment count then this is the album’s crown. Plaintive lap steel accents the giddy changes in tempo, echoing the mescaline rush with admirable facility. The switchblade smile of Arthur Lee’s Love is never far from the surface here too. “I can break you down, if I get you alone,” vows Neira. “The crystal house is getting down… on fire!” Sunset indeed but There Is No End, at least not for The Recalls. And we can be glad of that – before sundown.