There is no shortage of festivals promoting psychedelic/experimental music on the East Coast – Terrastock, Deep Heaven Now and Boston Fuzzstival, to name just a few. And where there’s smoke there’s fire – or, in our case, various merchants of Kosmische Musik and its endless branches (whether one chooses to use post or space or any other word to describe those).
Here’s a look at some of the said merchants of the otherworldly sounds based around Boston/Mass and New England:
Landing – this veteran Connecticut band (described on Discogs as “professional ambient musicians” – not without a hint of irony, one presumes) started out in the late 90s and since then amassed a giant back catalog of work. There are numerous splits with fellow space travelers Windy & Carl, Rothko and Yume Bitsu, countless 12″ and 7″ records and, finally, limited edition tapes put out by the band’s own label Vast Arc Hues.
Body Diffuser EP – latest in the series of the said tapes – features three hazy and meditative tracks (plus one video) only one which is below the 10 minute mark. Its a slowly unfolding atlas of guitar drones and clickety-clacks of different origin, a kind of sound that begs the listener to stay and concentrate (if not meditate), rather than allowing him/her to skim through surface of every track. All you need for the rewarding trip with this one is patience and, perhaps, a quiet place to enjoy it all.
Yet another veteran band – Beverly, MA Caspian – went through a rollercoaster of both success and grief/loss in 10+ years together. Formed at the height of post-rock boom, the band cited both Mogwai and Constellation Records as favorites – they also opened for Finnish band Him and signed to Triple Crown Records. They also suffered a horrible blow with the sudden death of bassist Chris Friedrich in 2013 and yet decided to continue recording.
It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that Dust and Disquiet – the band’s latest release – is laced with motives of mourning and regret (best reflected in the opener “Separation No. 2” and acoustic (albeit somewhat generic) balled “Run Dry”). Its not all doom and gloom, though – the band also explores more muscular/heavy rock on “Arcs of Command” / “Echo and Abyss” and there are a couple of shorter segues/sequence to be found there. Its the sound of the band still very much standing at crossroads and searching for answers.
Frequent BBE/I Heart Noise digital comp. contributors Ghost Box Orchestra bring on both the soundtrack-ish ambience (The Only Light On) and heavier/pounding tribal rock – latter seems to be the foundation for band’s recent releases, including the Sound of (Eternal Now) EP:
Boston’s Magic Shoppe is just one of many projects involving Kris Thompson (who also worked with The Lothars, Prefab Messiahs, Concord Ballet Orchestra Players and Abunai!). Triangulum Astrale EP – the band’s most recent work – manages to fuse both psychedelic/fuzzy aspect of 60s psychedelia, heavily reverbed vocals and the more melodic/groovy/pop elements (as the band themselves put – its the perfect prescription for those addicted to droned-out, reverb-drenched, tambourine-shaking bliss):
Last, but not least, is Providence, RI Skyjelly which doubles as both Rick “Skyjelly” Jones and his band that includes Scott Levesque (who also plays in Wheat), Eric Hudson and Dave Melanson. Formed in 2010, the band crafts its strange brew of heavily looped and layered ambient/psychedelia – occasionally frightening (Motorola Monkey) and sometimes downright beautiful/serene (Move on 45) their music defy easy categorization or classification.
Such is the case with Skyjelly and Sun EP – the band’s only studio release to date. It also includes layers upon layers of reverbed vocals, samples and guitar solos, but also retains the melodic edge (and a slightly Middle Eastern flavor to it all). Since the EP release, the band has been touring both Providence and Massachusetts heavily and they constantly upload new improvisations, videos and practice tracks to Skyjellytube.