It seems to be a sad part of a touring band’s life that, sooner or later, they are going to have some equipment stolen. For Carlisle’s The Lucid Dream this nightmare was fully realised in early 2017 when they had pretty much all their stuff nicked from a venue in Paris. What followed next, however, was perhaps not a regular response. The band shared the theft widely on social media in the hope to get some of their distinctive instruments back, something that morphed into a Kickstarter project in which fans contributed over £10k to get the band up and running again.
Were this unusual enough, the band used the opportunity to discover a distinct and new direction, and one that somehow seems quite significant in the scheme of things. I’ll be honest that I am not particularly into groups who want to put out the same sort of music album after album; I much prefer those who are constantly exploring new directions and thinking about new edges and influences… I may not always agree with them but just as my musical taste is always evolving, so I respect those that do as well.
In this case, however, I really like the way that The Lucid Dream have gone with their new direction. This was evident from their first release from ‘Actualisation’, ‘SX1000’, which took me back to the heady days of Acid House… days that for me marked the sort of musical revival that I had been waiting for for maybe half a decade. Like this the track sounded fresh and, most of all, it sounded like a statement of intent. It was also interesting to see the reaction it got around the ‘psych’ social media, which seemed understandably divided… for me it was a case of ‘bring it on and let’s have it’.
That was followed by the opener on the album ‘Alone in Fear’, which banished any doubts in my mind that ‘SX1000’ was going to be a one off experiment for the band. If anything it was even more out there, an absolutely enormous slab of in your face angry polemic about the madness of the Brexit process… a proof, if it was needed of how difference can work together. What’s more the track has a punk aesthetic that really grinds out the music in a manner that had me thinking about both Underworld and XTRMNTR-era Primal Scream. Most of all though it’s a massive dance floor track that on its own makes me want to see the band live, I’ve not seen them since the Liverpool PsychFest in 2015.
Elsewhere the two-part ‘Zenith’ heads off into a spacey dub groove that will have you being as reflective as you are active. I love the echo in the track and the way it is both reminiscent of times gone by, and yet feels bang up to date. This is not nostalgia, it feels more like discovery and inculturation… the sound of a band using the sounds of the past to drive it forward into the future.
‘Breakdown’ initially sounds like The Lucid Dream of previous albums, but for me there’s movement here too. Sounding like the rationalisation of RMFTM experimentalism, there is also risk and movement at play here too. Like much of this album the devil really is in the detail… there’s a hell of a lot more going off here that you first realise. This is also the case with ‘Ardency’, which is different again. Straight out of the box this feels like something that is quite mellow and the sound of the band taking a bit of a rest. This is soon found to be patently not the case as a much more complex and nuanced sound emerges, and even having listened to it a few times I’m am not sure that I’ve completely broken through it.
Which brings me to the final track, and third single from the album, ‘No Sunlight Dub’ which is a frankly marvellous piece of dark urban music. Beginning at a relatively slow pace it moves up through the gears bringing in different genres as it moves up. The Underworld comparisons are again there for me but as the dub gradually rises in the mix it feels like a weird sort of setting and the whole thing comes down to a single beat… echo… then gone.
With this their fourth album, The Lucid Dream take us on quite a trip. In some senses it is one back in time, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that there was an element of nostalgia here for me. However, that it not the prevailing feeling that I get listening to this album, and while I really respect the band for making such a bold move; that on its own would not be enough. Rather this is an album that excites me, that brings something new to 2018 and onwards, a breath of fresh acid that somehow challenges the status quo and, frankly, leaves some of this band’s peers looking rather old hat.
‘Actualisation’ is released by Holy Are You Recordings on 19th October 2018, and is available to order here.
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