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WatchOut! - Flashbacker (2014) review

WatchOut! "Flashbacker" (Permanent Records, 2014)

In my continuing adventures exploring the Chilean psych scene we come to one of the coolest bands I’ve wandered across in sometime.  WatchOut! Sound like they fell straight out of the summer of love.  Sitars abound on the title track “Latinarabia” which builds from a lurching dirge to a Beatles-esque garage pop affair with dripping vocals and strings vying for space in the tripped out tribal landscape effortlessly sounding like it’s 1969and they’re discovering psychedelics for the first time.  There’s a certain element of experimental folk melodies that drive the thing, like the scales on the belly of a snake propelling the melody for almost seven minutes leading into the much more straight out and up-beat “South Sun”.  The fuzzy, reverb drenched guitars rave and subside behind an infectiously catchy lead melody that’s repeated through out, tasty little fills and leads smattered through out.  “Die” slows the melody a bit, pitting accordion against the vocals, joined only by some light tambourine work and what sounds like a bit of organ in there somewhere.  The sparse landscape is a wonderful compliment to the rest of the album, giving you a little breathing room, gearing up slowly as it progresses with some dual vocal lines fading into “WishYouKnow” which is a dead ahead rocker.  The fuzzy riffage explodes out of the speakers from minute one of what is the fourth track and kind of signals a movement into the latter half of the album.  While retaining the whimsical pop melodies of earlier tracks, “WishYouKnow” kicks things into high gear and takes the energy to the next level.  The gnarly bass line just bumps on this one, I was afraid it was going to kick the tone arm of the record player around!  The organs begin to dual against absolutely blown-out and distorted guitars in an all out battle to the death in huge instrumental breaks, of all the tracks on this album this is one of the strand-outs to be sure.  The toe-tapping melody is perfectly teamed with just the right amount of radical revolutionary aggression steeped with the love and patchouli of the hippie culture; this song deserves to be blasted in a tricked out van with shag carpeting damn it!  “Space So Near” is of the “Southern Sun” vein, more refrained and perhaps a bit more refined, tight rhythm work paving the way for inlets of lead guitar and feedback breaks.  “Space So Near” though, takes the palette of sounds that have been introduced in the first half of the album and adds them to the mix, blending and building on their sound like the Lego maniacs of psych that they are!  The twelve-minute and some-odd second title track “Flashbacker” is next up and it’s a doozy…  Incorporating avant-garde acoustic guitar before melting into some more Eastern sounding string work “Flashbacker” is one of those polarizing moments in the album for me, the point where most people are either nodding their heads and really starting to get in to it or they’ve decided the ride is too much and the need to get off.  The organ starts softly in the din of a heavy drone building and growing more and more erratic before morphing into looped feedback and electronic whimsy dancing behind the melody of the song and eventually sputter and fade into near silence once more.  At about seven minutes into the song the guitars start to grow a bit more prevalent, finally peeking their heads out and tossing some serious distortion and fretwork around growing more and frenzied before leading the song back into a smooth droning direction like a pied-piper of LSD.  The last minute or two of the song bring the organ back into the mix heavily, adding the strings and building into a single channel of feedback that starts the final track “Mystic River”.  “Mystic River” is a perfect way to finish the album, heavily tremolo causing the vocals to shimmer and ripple across the rhythm section, an organ heavy hook that really kicks.  The organs give way to some dissonant flute work before slipping back into the tremolo-drenched hook.  The tribal element of the album is probably most apparent on “Mystic River” as well, the song ending with simple hand drums and a sparse organ melody.  Virtually impossible to get in the US before now, Permanent Records has once again come to the rescue with a pressing of this sick album.  Limited to only 300 copies this is a must have for seriously Chilean-psych heads, tribal or garage pop junkies; I ain’t joking, this is essential listening for just about anyone whose into real psychedelic music.  Don’t sleep on this because it’s going to be gone before you know it and nobody likes supporting flippers, do they?

Review made by Roman Rathert/2014
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