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Psicomagia – Psicomagia (2013) review

October 1, 2013

Psicomagia – Psicomagia (2013) review

Psicomagia “Psicomagia” (El Paraiso Records, 2013)
Oh my, oh my! What a scorcher of an album
this San Diegan bunch has concocted for us! Psicomagia’s debut – pronounced
“seek-oh-mah-hee-yah”, just to get that out of the way now – is a
daring, no holds barred foray into the beautiful world of Canterbury, jazz-inflected
prog. Let me tell you right away – these guys mean business. Serious business.
Out now on the Danish label El Paraiso’s Impetus division, the album consists
of four tracks: one long suite spread over both sides of the record, bookended
by two shorter songs.
The rhythm section is breathtakingly good,
which comes as no surprise after a quick look at the album credits; Paul
Marrone should be no stranger to late ’60s/early ’70s rock aficionados. Having
plied his trade as drummer with the likes of Radio Moscow, Cosmic Wheels (with
his brother Vincent), Red Octopus, Joy and Shaking Pyramid, he’s quickly built
up a reputation as being one of THE best drummers in the scene today. Trevor
Mast, previously of Joy, effortlessly and imaginatively keeps up with Paul’s
(sometimes) furious pace and masterfully busy playing; it’s an aural joy to
behold, particularly on the epic “El Congreso”. It would hardly be
called Canterbury if there weren’t any keys in there somewhere; these are
provided by Tyler Daughn, who is inspiring (and inspired!). Dare I say he’s a
Mike Ratledge or Dave Stewart of our times, driving the melodies along and
conjuring up intricate and tasteful solos at the drop of a hat. Hats off to
Brian Ellis of Astra fame, whose great mixing leaves Tyler’s organ and synths
freedom to roam around your headphones (or speakers). The bass level is just
right too, leaving for a powerful yet not overwhelming low-end. Speaking of
Brian, his sax playing on this record is spot-on, complementing Trevor Mast’s grooves
superbly and affording the band a fuller sound.
The album’s magnum opus is undoubtably
“El Congreso”, clocking in at just over 27 minutes and interspersed
with spoken word passages in Spanish. Don’t be tricked into thinking one must
be proficient in the Spanish tongue to grasp the fervour of Bernardo Nuñez’s
mesmerising recitations. Co-written by an anonymous poet credited simply as
“…”, the words, along with the stunning instrumentation, assist in
creating an atmosphere of mystical proportions that reverberates to the
furthest depths of the psyche. Stick that track on, sit back, close your eyes
and it’s as if you’re dropping in on an intimate lecture on the nature of
existence or an anti-establishment gathering in a hot, sweat-soaked room in
some small house in the backstreets of a Latin American city. It’s a blast!
File this bad boy next to your Khan, Egg,
Magma and Ange and just beneath your jazzy German prog à la Hanuman and Embryo.
I can’t stress enough how talented I think these guys are. Nobody’s even close
to what they’re doing in the prog world nowadays; to pull off a near 30-minute
piece of such technical brilliance is no small feat. They’re just on another
plane altogether and they’ve really shown that on this release.
*(Thank you to Javi Coll
Fernandez and Emily Clark for their help!)
Review made by Sébastien Métens/2013
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http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2013
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