The Flight Reaction – The Flight Reaction (2014) review & interview

November 14, 2014

The Flight Reaction – The Flight Reaction (2014) review & interview

The Flight Reaction “The Flight Reaction” (13 O’Clock Records, 2014)
Not only is this debut long-player a rather magnificent
achievement by one of the best groups that Sweden has produced in a very long
time, it’s also groovier, heavier and altogether more mystical and psychedelic
sounding (in that teenage rock’n’roll way) from start to finish than almost
anything else you’ll have heard anywhere in this here modern world. From the
point of view of discerning garage hounds and learned psych heads out there I
know that’s a somewhat loaded statement, but in my humble opinion it’s also a
one hundred per cent truism. Of course with a lineage that stretches through
names such as the Maggots, the Guiljoteens and all the way back to the Wylde
Mammoths and Crimson Shadows, not forgetting guitarist / vocalist Måns
Månsson’s deeply-abiding passion for stellar-sounding 45s and 33s from the
golden age, it’s obvious there has to be something special cooking in the pot,
but this honestly goes way beyond, and certainly where my expectations were
concerned anyway.
What the brain hears as this set is spinning away is a
deeply refreshing, thoroughly captivating aural treat that all sharp-eared
sonic soundheads out there are gonna love, especially so since The Flight
Reaction have taken the time and prepared well and have utilised the recording
studio facilities to their utmost advantage in which they’ve been truly
inspired to create a tremendous display of seriously psychedelic sounds, the
results being that those who dig for their envelope to be pushed and pulled
will be thusly rewarded, and will therefore find much here to laud and praise,
and to get genuinely excited about. Accordingly, this will hopefully transfer
into wanting to share that profound experience with others.
Opening the first side is the strident, alluringly
tripped-out acid-punk scorcher ‘Falling Through Color’ in which we are warmly
welcomed into the party and given a potent taste of what’s to come. Each
subsequent number then takes the listener further into a world where the
language consists of a volley of lysergic lyrical reflections which are audibly
enhanced by a diffuse array of instruments, many of which are brought forth
into view via a series of jagged shapes, and shards and fragments of brittle
jangle (‘Take Your Time’) and / or trebly bursts of ear-piercing fuzz (the
storming ‘Running Out Of Mind’, a song with the all-out potential to be an
amazing universally-got single smash), both are powerful ultra-sonic blasts
that can remain whirling around inside the recipient’s mind long after they’ve
entered in. Elsewhere the contrasting aura is one of sweet calm, with
altogether more soothing tones rising to the fore; one of the strangest, yet
ultimately strongest emanations of this particular persuasion is the beautiful
‘Love Will See Us Through’ which rings out its cross-fertilisation of original
1967 UK and US flower-psych scenes with absolute aplomb, sitar further
reinforcing the a la mode eastern-style flourish and comes resplendent with
full-blown kisses to the sky atmospherics.
Much ebb and flow is to be found throughout as each groove
slides and bubbles, tracing and trailing like The Pink Floyd’s UfO light-show
spectacle before exploding in a joyous welter of sing-a-long choruses,
intriguingly hollow-sounding drum rattles, the rumbling static of bass buzz,
treated vocals; everything bursting forth into vibrant colour as hitherto
unknown vistas break unexpectedly into a kaleidoscopic haze that serves as your
field of aural vision. Yeah, sometimes it’s just like that! Believe me! There’s
also that gloriously captured moment of an altogether superior interpretation
of their earlier single ‘Mourning Light’ – also issued on Texas label 13
O’clock Records which, in a way, is the perfect announcement of that post-peak
calming glow and the beginning of the long slow descent towards … morning …
and the stark realisation that, already, another day has begun.
This, I feel, is a record which can, and will, easily stand
the test of time and, in fact, will doubtless be recalled in the years and
decades to come by newer generations of psychedelic music lovers as one of the
very best, and most highly authenticated statements of this nature since the
days when The Chocolate Watch Band, Electric Prunes, West Coast Pop Art
Experimental Band, The 13th Floor Elevators, The Seeds, and The Golden Dawn…
all released their cache of lysergia-dominated wonderment upon the world! It’s
really quite an astonishing trip all told, one that appreciators of this type
of mind expanding music really ought to hear. Are you listening? So if you can,
or if you know someone who should, then my only advice is to acquire a copy of
this album right now while it’s still young, fresh, clean and pure and hear
what all the fuss is about. Albums like this one don’t happen by all that often
so don’t pass up an opportunity to hear The Flight Reaction’s thrill-ride debut
opus if you know what’s good for you.
Interview with Mans Mansson of Sweden’s happening garage
psychedelic group The Flight Reaction 
So can you tell me a little about how the actual formation
of The Flight Reaction came about?
After The Giljoteens and The Maggots split up we decided to
form a new band with the intention to play whatever we want and that is moody
and psychedelic garage punkadelia with lots of emphasis on melody, and whatever
happens in that direction. We rehearsed without a bass player for a while
before meeting Aron, who then played guitar in a band called Les Artyfacts
(playing “french” beat/mod psych/freakbeat). He never played bass
before but to us the attitude, looks and the taste in music is more important
and the step from guitar to bass isn’t very long.
The sound that the group has had since your first 7″
releases on Copas Disques two or three years back has already hinted at a more
psychedelic, as opposed to garage beat feel it’s true, but here (on the group’s
debut self-titled longplayer) and while still not losing sight of the garage
side of things, you have truly embraced a wholly vintage style psychedelic feel
to many of the selections would you agree?
Absolutely! It’s an album and had to be thought out as an
album, rather than just a buncha songs slapped together like a ‘garage comp’.
Flow, dynamics and all the stuff you don’t need to think about as much when
recording singles. We wanted to record something that has a similar vibe as the
classic psych albums… 1 + 1 = 3 and all that… When I record a single I’m
happy with eight – twelve channels but here we had something like fifty(!!!)
channels in some of the most extreme songs (a lot of it doubled and tripled
choirs, instruments and so on of course) all mixed in mono of course. A total
mess, but deliberate. We like working with recordings where we have to
“fix things” and so on. Too perfect isn’t any fun on our planet.
Fucked up is fun.
How does the initial songwriting pattern emerge for you
guys, is it a case of one person does the lyrics on his own and one does the
music, or is it perhaps an equal collaborative exercise between you all as
suggested by the sleeve credits … or is each composition very different in
scope and origin as to render any such patterns non-applicable? Please discuss!
It differs… Usually someone in the band has a more or
less rough idea that we play around with til we have something resembling a
song/arrangement. The melody is always intertwined with the music but the
actual words may come later. It’s mostly I and Sebastian who come up with songs
but Aron is on the rise as well. He contributed the last song (Your Smile) to
the album and has a coupla new ones we’re working on. I wouldn’t say it’s as
equal as the sleeve credits suggest, but then again NO song comes totally
finished, so there is definitely contributions from everyone. I don’t know how
to play drums for instance, so I can’t tell Mats how he should do it.
Tell me about the songs ‘Love Will See Us Through’, and
‘Eight Hours Ago’, where the inspiration comes from and what they mean to you
to have created such thought-provoking pieces?

‘Love Will See Us Through’… I don’t really know
actually… a LOT was going through my mind when writing it… or writing… I
don’t know. It just came to me. I wanted to write a song with just one chord
through the verses and suddenly I was playing it with the melody there. I
really wanted to roll the acid Pretty Things, Stones and Elevators into one
with it. I have no idea how much sense that makes. Lyrically it’s about going
through the hardships of life together with the one you love and realizing what
a journey it is. It may also be about the higher state that love has the
ability to take us to. How it may open our eyes to the wonders of the world
beyond the facade that makes up society.
‘Eight Hours Ago’… well, eight hours is the approximate
time it takes to go through an acid trip. It may of course linger on a bit longer
than that but the eventual life changing experience will happen within that
time span. The lyrics are, more or less, a series of philosophical
“questions” without any judgement or such… Like all psychedelia it
touches the way we percieve “reality” through a filter… and how to
try and go beyond that and see the world for what it really is, without any
attached “morals” or “norms” or “ideas”. Does it
matter if you’re mad or if you’re sane? Who decides which is what? Who’s rules
should one live by? What is “sane”? Etc ad infinitum. Or maybe it’s
just a buncha silly words. Who knows?
Were there particular groups or records you guys were
listening to prior to the birthing of this LP project. I hear the likes of The
Golden Dawn and other Texas 60s groups too such as The Remaining Few and a few
more obvious names… while certain garage groups with an adventurous ear are
also sometimes brought to mind in a lot of these sounds? But I’d like to hear
from you what names are special to The Flight Reaction?
I had a lot of SF Sorrow in my head… not really the song
structures or anything like that, but the idea of the record. I mean we haven’t
made a concept album like Sorrow or another huge fave in the genre, Mandrake
Memorial – Puzzle… but there’s the idea of just not giving a f**k if you can
play the songs live or not and just go mad with instruments, overdubs etc.
Wreckless studio psych! The Elevators are always there as well… but we’ve
never tried to sound like them simply because it’s impossible. The influence is
more on a philosophical and ideological level… and we don’t try to sound like
anyone else at all really. Stones – Satanic is also a big influence (as you may
already have guessed from our cover of ‘Citadel’) It was my fave LP when I was
a kid and it still brings joy to my life. Mad and hedonistic… the love for
Tages runs deep as well… which makes me think of The Deep… Beacon Street
Union are popular in our band, and The Freeborne did a splendid LP where they
just let everything go. Of course the Electric Prunes – Underground… When it
comes down to more “unknown” or “unsuccessful” bands that’s
an inspiration… The Mystic Tide… Lemon Fog… The Dovers …some Swedish
psych like The Outsiders, The Shakers, The Bootwigs… well just a LOT of great
music. You know… it’s more about “sound” than actual bands who only
released a coupla 45’s.  
What can you see as
the hope both for you, and for The Flight Reaction as a whole, for the journey
and success of this, your first LP record?
I don’t know. Ride the wave and realize that nothing lasts.
Are you happy that it’s on the Texas-based 13 O’Clock label
and being on such a small independent do you think it can get across to the
many who (I think personally) should really try to go out of their way to hear
this? What are the advantages of being with 13 O’Clock?
Yay! Happy! Brian is a great guy and he works hard with the
label. The first pressing of the album is sold out already… so a second press
is in the pipeline now, not even a month after the first was out. We don’t know
about how to make people hear music or not… We just made an album that we
really wanted to make. We had no thoughts beyond that and we’ve been happily
surprised by the positive reactions. Brian didn’t even have distro in Europe
when we set out to record it.
It looks like that quite a lot of people are buying it. Also
– and this is important stuff haha! – Brian / 13 O’Clock shares the obsession
to details… sleeve, printing, label designs, extra inserts etc… 13 O’Clock
releases look cleaner and more “sixties” than many others. Of course
it’s also a beautiful thing to release our stuff on an Austin label.
The extra-curricular sounds we hear and overall spacey (but
not progressive rock) atmosphere throughout gives the whole thing a truly
individual and inspirational air … Without giving away all your secrets how
did the group go about capturing some of this mysterious aura. And how much of
it was down to such as the extra players, engineer Stefan Brandstorm and
locations such as Longbridge State Hospital, Dustward Studios and The Living Room?
Also can you elaborate as to what these names are: are they just that, or are
they already established recording facilities? Or perhaps they are your own
rehearsal space / garage / studio that you’ve put a name to. I’m curious here
that’s all?
Taking the inspiration from the Elevators and record/mix
everything more or less backwards and upside down haha.”Too much”
bleeding and leakage between channels to create unexpected background sounds in
“the room”… do “too much” of everything… Like all
backing vocals are doubled and tripled, the mellotron is on three channels –
sometimes it’s just one and sometimes all three. We did NOT try to record
“exactly like in the sixties” at all though… Just like no one
recorded “exactly like in the sixties” back in the sixties either.
They threw themselves over every new opportunity, every new technical advance,
new effects etc. What we love in most psychedelia/freakbeat etc is the freedom
in the sounds and the experimentation and the absence of rules! We tried to work
like that. It’s the end result that counts. Mastering is also really important
and that was made at an old studio where there are great old compressors
etc. Extra players contributed a lot to the whole. They all played stuff that we
came up with, more or less, but it’s still other unique musical voices in the
songs and it adds extra dimensions. We deliberately had more guest musicians
than there are members of the group. Now we may have to bring in someone more
into the band when we play live! 
The facilities: Longbridge State Hospital is where we
rehearse. It’s a big bad room with stone walls, perfect for recording our
music. It’s located in the basement of an old mental hospital and the building
is stunning. Hermann Goring was an 
intern there in the 20’s cause of his morphine addiction and generally
being completely insane, which was of course proven beyond doubt and reason a
few years later… If the walls could speak… they’d probably babble a buncha
mad gibberish! Dustward is an established studio. We recorded backing tracks,
keyboards, some vocals at a coupla facilities and then we transferred it all in
the studio and did overdubs and mixing there. Stefan is great. A good ear for
details, a studio full of incredible equipment (one of George Harrison’s Vox
amps, used on Revolver, is standing there for example. Being used!) and
generally a great guy with a knack for experimentation and going outside the
box. The Living Room is where I live. “The livingroom… the living…
room… ?”
There’s also a wealth of fascinating guitar sounds emanating
from Sebastian Braun and yourself Mans, they can range in tone from delicately
crisp porcelain jangle and nervorama tremelo, and on to wicked bursts of
brain-frying needle-thin fuzz attack. What guitars and amps and effects units
do you guys favour? And how did Mats Bigrell achieve that real understated,
almost muted at times, drum kit sound; highly unusual and never found on any
modern group’s recordings. I love this sound!
We really wanna use the guitars to make all these different
sounds. It’s just such an orchestral instrument! All that stuff you can do with
it! You can find all the colors of the rainbow in an electric guitar and then
some. I play a ’62 Fender Jazzmaster thru a ’65 Fender DeLuxe amp. For me it doesn’t
get better than that. For a coupla things(feedback lead in Eight Hours most
prominently) I’ve used my semi acoustic Gretsch and as much fuzz as I could
handle. I have a ’66 Tonebender that I always use for recording, but Stefan
also has a few great fuzz boxes at the Dustward studio… and we also used a
Vox guitar with built in fuzz/tremolo for a coupla solos + effects. I also
really like my old Electro-Harmonix Small Stone phase shifter… it’s from the
early 70’s and one of the most extreme effects units ever built. There are tape
delays and so on everywhere as well. On the last song I play through an old
Fender Leslie cabinet. Sebastian is playing a Guild semi acoustic through an
old Fender Twin that’s been remodeled from 100W to 50W (100W is ridiculous) and
he’s using an old Colorsound fuzz and liberal splashes of delay echo. The drum
sound! Hehe it’s a result of a mistake or two… the recording levels were a
bit low on the drums so there’s been quite a lot of work with that. But the
messy recording is also a deliberate strategy. The biggest influence on how to
record is of course the way The Elevators did it. LOTS of bleeding between
channels… all backing tracks recorded live in the same room. The drums ‘sing’
together with bass and guitars, making the sound more alive and integrated and
all together may even create a ‘third sound’!
Mats also has a unique and cool swinging playing style that
I’ve never really heard from anyone else (these days) probably because the
garage/beat style is in his core. The drum kit is a 1960 Gretsch, which of
course also matters. The old jazz kits are so damn loud and reverberating in
themselves. They were built before “mic’ing up” so they were supposed
to be loud instead of muted, like new drum kits are. 
If anyone wants to know how to make a bass sound good (if
you don’t already know it): use flat wound strings.
A while before the album came out we were already fortunate
enough to hear the likes of the glorious ‘Mourning Light’ that you put out as a
single, but with so many other tracks with great potential – obvious titles
include both side openers, and, incidentally, both sheer tearaway acid-punkers
‘Falling Through Color’ and ‘Running Out Of Mind’, will we see more of these
turning up on 7″ or will you now turn your minds to the writing of new
I’d say new material is the focus. We thought it was cool to
re-record ‘Mourning Light’ for the album in a slightly different way than the
more ‘garagey’ single version. We all dig different mixes/versions of songs,
but it won’t turn into a habit.
Review & interview made by Lenny Helsing/2014
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2014
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