On the hottest day of the year so far and as the summer solstice approaches a double header of psychedelia featuring Swedish collective Flowers Must Die and Cambridge band Psychic Lemon.
I have followed the career of Psychic Lemon and reviewed them several times, hearing them satisfyingly evolve into the mighty trio on show here tonight. If ‘psychedelic’ conjours up images of trippy acoustic interludes and 60s keyboard solos the band are well removed from that, instead we are hearing space-rock power; relentless drums and slicing bass lines with unpredictable raw guitar and the effects pedals becoming instruments too. There are occasional vocals (and some keyboard too), a contrast with the songs on their debut album. The four extended tracks played tonight presumably form the substance of the highly-anticipated second long-player due later this year.
This band are totally immersed; it is like they are a conduit for pre-existing natural and technological sounds somewhere in the ether. They have tapped into the source and the audience are completely pulled in too. Enthralling, primal and hypnotic!
Flowers Must Die show a similar no-compromise approach to their music, from the stage setting with a single backlight and revolving colour dome keeping the six members as outlines and shadows for the whole set (not quite sure how they could see to play, but it all sounded fine!) to the build-up of musical ideas within the tracks. The two guitars, bass and drums line-up is enhanced by added electric violin, keyboard and the extensive use of that always fascinating electronic marvel the theremin!
‘Don’t You Leave Me Now’ was a standout song, with impressive vocals over a mutated disco-funk backing. ‘Hit’ was a complex groove, another track from their 2017 album titled ‘Kompost’ with its enigmatic mixture of Swedish and English titled songs.
Flowers Must Die have finely honed their live sound but they have still retained an effervescence and sheer enjoyment in their performance.
A free psychedelic rock spectacular to celebrate the release of the new album from Cambridge trio Moonstrips. Supporting band BansheeVa were noisy and relentlessly hypnotic, pulsing bass lines and power drumming with biting guitar and occasional vocals. Very appropriate to see the backdrop bubble projections and always good to hear a lengthy cover of ‘Interstellar Overdrive’, the definitive Pink Floyd consciousness-expanding opus. Heavy and spaced out.
Moonstrips had a sharp and addictive EP out earlier this year and they opened with two of the tracks; ‘How Do You Do?’ an insistent rocky riff with distant vocals dissolving into a noisy workout of echo and effects, a short-form song that crams a lot in. ‘543’ is a slice of pop reminiscent of 60s Who-ness with good hook phrases and a neat descending line driving through the whole piece. Heavier guitar eventually arrives on top for the finale.
I really enjoyed the newer tracks from the album ‘Glimpses’; the band are not afraid to allow time for the songs to develop, establishing mood and style with a variety of guitar effects at the fore. The twelve minute ‘Silver Screens’ closed the show; a psychedelic manifesto of epic proportion.
Mind-expanding stuff, live and loud in an intimate, packed venue, a perfect Saturday evening for Cambridge music fans?
At last, the debut long-player from premier Cambridge consciousness-expanding rockers Psychic Lemon arrives on the scene.
‘Ticktoc’, a song they have been honing live for a while is a strong opener, a solid bass riff and punching drumming then some vocals airily drift in, countered by walls of sound from their double guitars. I last saw them in December at the Mill Road Winter Fair, with a flute player really adding an extra layer….and here he is on this track too! An unexpected bonus as the flute fizzes through an energetic coda.
From a pastoral acoustic guitar and choral introduction, ‘Death Cult Blues’ bursts into life, with more starry flute. The sound on this track and most of the album is intricate and multi-layered, it must have been compelling to stand outside in the garden listening at the home-built Psychic Studio “5 minutes down the road from Syd Barrett’s old place”….. and I think his spirit lives on in the instrumental ‘Analogue Summer’, from the birdsong bookends to tremendous slide guitar this is a beautiful season indeed.
‘Good Cop/Bad Cop’ is another live favourite from their current set as is ‘Dilator’, a rocker with an epic feel and strange paranoid punkish lyric. The final track ‘Horizon’ is more than ten minutes of many of the elements from the rest of the album, woven into a widescreen psychedelic spectacular.
This album has captured the experimental dynamic of the band very successfully; it draws on their influences from a much loved style of music and then adds some powerful edges with the as-live feel of the recording.