Psych Lovers Top 20 Albums of 2022

It has become a fine annual tradition for the Psych Lovers Facebook group to vote on their album of the year. So that we get to think about every release we leave it until the beginning of the following year to make our selections, with previous winners including Mildred Maude, 10000 Russos and The Cosmic Dead… and now (like Russos) Kikagaku Moyo win their second title with their farewell album ‘Kumoyo Island’, after having also won with ‘Little House in the Tall Grass’ (my own favourite album from the last decade).

This is a special award for me because not only is it voted on by the group, but its members provide their own thoughts on what the successful albums mean to them. So as well as exploring the list, enjoy their excellent musings.

1. Kikagaku Moyo – Kumoyo Island (Gurugurubrain Records)

It’s very difficult to review an album like Kumoyo Island – it’s a highly emotional affair! As someone who adores Kikagaku Moyo, I still haven’t come to terms with their ‘indefinite hiatus’. It’s even more difficult to accept when they leave us with an album as stunning as this one, along with the incredible final tour – some of the most amazing shows I’ve seen. It’s also impossible to focus, because as soon as you play the album, your mind is no longer your own – you are transported to a magical, fantasy island with the most amazing, rich tapestry of sounds.

The album opens with earworm ‘Monaka’. It’s funky, enticing singalong builds to a full-band freak-out which is still ringing in your ears for the intro to the joyful ‘Dancing Blue’ – don’t even try to stand still listening to this one!

The floating echoes of ‘Effe’ are followed by a gorgeous cover of the Erasmo Carlos song ‘Meu Mar’, before ‘Cardboard Pile’ bursts out of the stereo! It’s immediately intense, and the tension builds until suddenly, on screech the brakes and it levels out into a dreamlike, swirling instrumental.

‘Gomugomu’ is a multi-layered, happy ditty – it’s a total feel-good song, in contrast to the strange sounds and percussion of ‘Daydream Soda’. The repetitive loops of ‘Field of Tiger Lilies’ lead into the funk-rock ‘Yayoi Ilyayoi’. 4 minutes into this 7-minute-long track, the pace changes to a chanting, swaying, wah-laden melody.

Nap Song reminds us that we are, in fact, on a fantasy island, with the sounds of the ocean drifting through the song, before we realise, we have reached the end of the road – ‘Maison Silk Road’, to be precise. The ambient sounds and samples are interspersed with piano and the drifting delays of the sitar.

This incredible album reinforces my not-so-secret hope that they surprise us all and return after a nice, well-earned rest. My fingers remain crossed.

Written by Alison Sunshine

2. Minami Deutsch – Fortune Goodies (Gurugurubrain Records)

2022 was a big year for the Guru Guru brigade. We had the bittersweet farewell of Kikagaku Moyo and the resurfacing of Dhidalah’s cosmic riff worship. But the one that had my nose sniffing the psych air was the long-awaited return of Minami Deutsch and their album “Fortune Goodies”.

Operating firmly in the motorik zone I was wondering where the Deutsch could go next. Would they just head nod us to nirvana forever more? Actually, the answer lay in their live shows over the past few years. There tends to be two sorts of Minami shows- the heads down all consuming tank powered by metronome or some of that but a bit more expansive and fuzzy. It’s the latter that best sums up “Fortune Goodies”. The whole album is so nimble, silken like a glorious watercolour version of Minami Deutsch. All manner of tones and hues surface and bubble throughout tracks. Strange vocalisations, insectoid chatter, massively distorted solos. But all the time keeping your neck working and hips grooving. A band that now fully understands its immense power and when to deploy it for maximum effect. Immense.

Written by James Smith

3. Korb – iii     (Dreamlord Recordings)

I am a relative late comer to the cosmic sounds of Korb. I received their self-titled debut album as a gift and was blown away by the vivid journey that the music took me on. I then discovered their seminal second album, Korb II. Again, the space rock sounds took me away and had me hooked. Now they return with their third album called, wait for it, Korb III. I’m once again booking my ticket on the good ship Korb, ready to blast off into space to discover new worlds and galaxies.

The album opens on the exploratory piece, ‘Remote Viewer’. There’s a peaceful serenity to this track whilst at the same time being ominous and foreboding. A short but great start to the journey.

As is traditional, we next meet this albums android. ‘Korb’s Third Android’ is a restrained affair. The modulated synth flutters while the guitar jams and the rhythm section hold it down like clockwork. Like the internal workings of the android itself.

We soar on through the galaxy and encounter ‘Hunter’. We’re picking up pace now with real retro Arkanoid vibe. The drums hold down a driving groove for the pulsing synth and bass to play over. The mega fuzzed out guitar adds splashes of colour and texture lifting the track, sending us soaring.

Following this is my album highlight. ‘Lords of Nazca’ is one of the coolest instrumentals I’ve ever heard. It has this confident swagger about it, coming from that groove. That awesome groove. This part of the journey feels like flying through hyperspace, multicoloured streams of light peeling past as we travel on towards galaxies new.

We emerge bleary eyed above the ‘Temples of Mars’. Droning synths trade blows with rolling electronic waveforms. It’s almost like we are moving slowly over the surface of the red planet scanning for life.

Now in the temple it’s time to offer our ‘Ritual for the Gods’. Our intergalactic overlords demand their offering and luckily the Korb boys have us covered. The slow and pulsing sounds mirror our slow advance to the altar. Building in complexity, one layer at a time until reaching the feet of the Gods themselves.

We are on the move again with the duelling guitars of ‘Infrared’. In my head this is the sound of the giant Gods chasing us from the temple across the plains of Mars. Proper solid riffs on show here aping the huge footsteps of our pursuers.

All is not lost, to our aid come the ‘Robots of the Ancient World’. There’s an air of triumph to the synths and particularly the drums on this piece. The distance between us and the danger becomes too great to comprehend. We are flying.

When all of a sudden comes ‘A Rare Bird’, swooping on the solar winds. This track is so poised and deliberate it takes you away, chasing that bird through the heavens. When I close my eyes, I see the fiery phoenix from Battle of the Planets flying into the never-ending night.

Until the ‘Cosmic Dawn’. Where peace embraces us at the end of our journey across the cosmos. Our brave pilots say their goodbyes and take the good ship Korb off on another adventure to star systems new.

There’s something magical about a Korb album. It fires my imagination and sends me places beyond my comprehension. For me that’s down to how these guys play the music. One minute your hearing sounds that remind you of a 50’s sci-fi B-movie, then synths harking back to the BBC Radiophonic Workshop creations from the late 70’s. All the while though you feel like you are listening to some far-off future where Ulysses is still searching for Earth or Esteban is still searching for those seven cities of gold.

Written by Mark Anderson (Static Sounds Club)

4. LOOP – Sonancy (Reactor)

If you were around for the Class of 1988 and their noise/drone/dreampop beauty, then the news that Robert Hampson had reassembled Loop for their first LP in 30 years was more than exciting. The fact RH had employed the rhythm section from Bristol’s legendary psych lords The Heads to play on the new record meant that the excitement became almost sexual (for me anyway)…the cherry on the cake was the release would come in about 27 different colours of vinyl to keep the most ardent 40 something obsessive teenager happy (even if in the end a lot of the colours ended up as black)…So I eagerly bought them all, and was propelled back to smokey bedrooms of my youth, happy that Loop existed again.

So that’s that then? Well, no, because I guess you’ll want to know is it a good record? Does it deserve to sit alongside Heaven’s End, Fade Out and A Gilded Eternity? Does the record deserve your attention, or is this just another old band having a bash for old time’s sake? Truth is that Sonancy is a great record. Sonancy sounds like Loop, it behaves like Loop, creating the feelings that those records from late 80s and early 90s did. There are some updates – Loop 2022 sounds sharper, more clinical, the circular riifs and the ambient scree of old is present, but the band sounds more brittle, edgier, delivering the sonic trip more efficiently…and that’s the point of a great record, isn’t it? It should take you somewhere interesting, Sonancy does something quite extraordinary – it takes you back and forward at the same time, it stretches time. It makes you want more of the new but feels like an old familiar friend who you haven’t seen for years.

Written by Dave Voss

5. Kungens Män – Kungens Ljud & Bild (Self Release/ Centripetal)

2022 saw 10 years of Kungens Män and The King’s Sound (& Image) is as strong as it ever was. Six people continue to lay down the grooves that stir the musical passion inside us, and that makes me happy. Kungens Ljud & Bild was the first vinyl release on the band’s own label of the same name back in May.

När piskan viner kicks off proceedings in a rather rocky fashion, though the trademark KM vibe remains. A change of pace for Stora rummet, which is one of those fabulous pieces where each member contributes a rhythm or a melody that all interweave and lead you on a journey where you might start listening to the percussion and the bass, then float off with the guitar parts, and just get lost in the moment. Bliss!

Flip to side two and Mikael leads the band, with him reading through their list of potential song titles, one liners in Swedish as a random stream of consciousness. Underneath is an insistent beat, Indy and Magnus powering it along, the whole piece building in tension, bass and synth throbbing, until the end finally arrives and Vaska lyckokaka takes over. It’s a fuzzy beast with a calming melody threading its way through the maelstrom, keeping things together, until the eventual departure into space.

A fine album then, and one certainly worthy of being #5 in the Psych Lovers AOTY list.

Written by Rod Jamroom

6. The Black Angels – The Wilderness of Mirror (Partisan Records)

Alex Maas of the Black Angels sings “Answer if you hear us calling you” on the regretful/mournful sounding song ‘The River’, and it’s clear many of us are hearing that call. The band’s latest album, Wilderness of Mirrors, earned sixth place in the 2022 Album of the Year poll in the internationally respected Psych Lovers FB group. Wilderness of Mirrors is also the sixth album from the highly talented psychedelic rockers out of Austin, Texas. Their psychedelic sound has only grown since Passover was released in 2006. They’ve added layers of reverb and fuzz and keys of various types (mellotron!) over the years, resulting in more strings and keys than on any prior album. 

Written over the past five years, Wilderness of Mirrors picked up some darkness along the way. There is a tension, almost a sense of danger. The title track references sleight of hand, misdirection, trickery, and deception, among other references to delusion and confusion. It seems almost meant to throw you off balance, with multiple lyrical reminders to open your eyes. Maybe it’s more of an ominous warning: some lines on my favourite track, Empires Falling, are “You can be the one who saves yourself or you can watch it all go to hell.”

Written over the past five years, Wilderness of Mirrors picked up some darkness along the way. There is a tension, almost a sense of danger. The title track references sleight of hand, misdirection, trickery and deception, among other references to delusion and confusion. It seems almost meant to throw you off balance, with multiple lyrical reminders to open your eyes. Maybe it’s more of an ominous warning: some lines on my favourite track, Empires Falling, are “You can be the one who saves yourself or you can watch it all go to hell.” 

Yet just a few songs later A Walk on the Outside makes me want to dance! Icon is a fantastic bluesy jam, being one of a few tracks on the 15-song album that give hints of country. Repeat listens are more than worth it, giving you the chance to pick up some background effects that you may have missed previously. The cover of Wilderness of Mirrors lives up to the name and the theme of the album, appearing to be a simple geometric pattern before you catch the word “Mirrors” hidden in it.

Written by E Scott

7. The Hologram People – Return to Chapel Perilous (OMP Soundtrack) (Dreamlord Recordings)

It’s the 1970s and science fiction is all the rage. Many sci-fi films are released during this decade and the soundtracks that are released alongside them usually become holy grails for crate diggers. This particular film sadly doesn’t exist, but the so-called ‘original motion picture soundtrack’ for The Hologram People’s second album “Return To Chapel Perilous” pays homage to the sort of soundtrack music you would expect to hear from the 60s and 70s. Dom Keen (also known as Studio Kosmische) and Jonathan Parkes (one half of psych favourites Korb) have created a mostly-instrumental tribute to that era, some parts psychedelia, some parts folk, some parts prog-rock and a bit of ambient Kosmische in-between, and it does indeed play out like it’s a movie score with each song setting up each scene perfectly.

Take “Drive Through Hologram City”, a guitar-driven piece that reflects the hustle and bustle of a futuristic city, and then there’s “Launched In The Kosmische”, the ambient piece that would envision a ship going through hyperspace such as in ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’. “Floating In Space” is the only song on the record with vocals, a groovy piece that oozes ‘cool 60s’ vibes. The concept and the song titles pay tribute to musical characters of the time too, including Ringo Starr in “Cool It Ringo” and “John Barleycorn Must Die” (also the name of an album by Traffic). It’s a shame there is no film of “Return To Chapel Perilous”, and yet The Hologram People can make you imagine what such a film would be like as they’ve provided the perfect soundtrack to a good old-fashioned space voyage. Strap in and enjoy the ride!

Written by Greg Barratt

8. Dhilalah – Sensoria (Gurugurubrain Records)

Sensoria is Dhidalah’s second release for the Guruguru Brain label, following the excellent Threshold from 2019.  The band have changed drummers in this time, introducing Masahito Goda (who occupied the drum stool for Minami Deutch’s immense With Dim Light) to complete the three-piece with Ikuma Kawabe (Guitar) and Kazuyuki Gotoh (Bass/vocals).

The album begins with Soma. A gentle introduction gives way to a rhythmic pulse, it is controlled, but momentum is building.  After about a minute the first guitar solo appears, which sets the tone for the album with Ikuma Kawabe taking centre stage

The pace picks up as the intricate and delicate guitar sound moves towards a heavier release.  The rhythm section gains urgency, the vocals accentuating this as heavy riffs kick in. Dhidalah reach full speed, full power and the guitar goes into full freakout before the dynamics change again, control is reintroduced, and the initial stage of the journey completes. 

Invader Summer has an urgent, almost menacing start as the bass throbs and rumbles over an insistent beat accompanied by heavy riffing.  The track thunders along with an Earthless-like intensity and doesn’t let up for six minutes.  This is head-nodding, trance-inducing heavy psych rock.

The closing track to the first side Dead contrasts with what has preceded it using light percussion, along with a much cleaner guitar sound. This gives the album chance to re-centre itself and introduces a more contemplative note.

Black Shrine brings together a lot of the ideas explored on Side A in one majestic piece of space rock. A steady tempo begins and then almost imperceptibly increases over time: a simple beat taking it forwards while the bass wobbles underneath.  Heavy riffs are added, vocals come in, flourishes embellishing the drum pattern. A quieter passage gives way to a Sabbath riff (a twist on Paranoid) and this opens up to a final freakout. A triumphant feeling at the end, we have arrived.

Written by Phil JKS

9. Acid Rooster – As Astra (Cardinal Fuzz, Little Cloud Records, Sunhair Music)

Acid Rooster is a bit of an enigma. Their first self-titled LP was a banger that garnered loads of attention and built a solid reputation for heavy rocking psych jams. Their second release, Irrlichter, which suffered from extreme brevity, seemed like it was going in the same direction but with two of the tracks venturing into much more subdued krautrock-influenced direction. While the slower-paced tunes were fine they lacked the length to really develop into a solid vibe. Ad Astra fixes that problem.

Recorded live in 2020. Two 20-minute plus extended jams of Kosmische perfection. “Zu den Sternen” starts things off with a nice drone that evolves into an almost tribal rhythm with assorted bleeps and whirls circling about as the spacey guitar works its way in for a hypnotic trance-inducing vibe. “Phasenschieber” ups the anty on the spacey vibes. With no drumming, the track is comprised of a long drone and multiple layered guitars. No freaked-out solos or kicking jams here just a meditative trip into space. For people that really dug their first release, this may not fit the bill but if you are into classic meditative space vibes this is it.

Written by John Waskiewicz (Ominous Drone)

10. GOAT – Oh Death (Rocket Recordings)

If I told you that an album was IN YOUR FACE it could actually mean a million different things, right? Well, in case of GOAT’s latest release it means that at least half of those million meanings you’re considering are all actually true – and at least a dozen of them are always happening at once.

Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating just a weeny bit here, but Oh Death really is one of those recordings where every sound pops and jumps at you in the best way. From sonic details like the sharp ping of certain cymbals or claves to the vibrating guitar strings cheekily whipping your ears during an excessive Kraut freak-out. From the outright nasty addictive Funk licks and grooves to the chaotic bursts of Free Jazz.

Some piano melody here, some European folk influence their proof that the band is also capable of subtleties. But the Swedes definitely prefer to serve you their overflowing, bubbling and steaming headsoup with always just a little more flavour than you can process.

Yet since all the ingredients are so primal and immediate it’s not an intellectual overload at all. No, this record rather makes you dance fall into an overwhelmed trance, while over the untiring swirl of shamanistic percussions the agitative, slightly weird voice of a Post Punk priestess lures you into her Psych love cult. The cult is called GOAT and you’re a disciple now.

And if you don’t trust my opinion on Oh Death at all, you can alternatively just trust the wild, vivid, kinky, silly, hallucinatory, surely not too serious cover artwork! I can’t deny that this thing kinda exactly sounds like it looks.

Translate that to: No other album of 2022 has been so much pure blissful fun!

We’ll still all die soon enough anyway.

Written by Stephan Ohlsen

11. Upupayãma – The Golden Pond (Cardinal Fuzz, Centripetal Force)

It must be so wonderful to live in a quiet mountain village surrounded by nothing but beautiful nature, with life adjusting its pace to your inner clock, and to really have time to listen to it and reverberate that beauty into your music. It is what Alessio Ferrari does with his alter ego Upupayãma. On The Golden Pond, his second effort, he connects with his inner Eastern spirit once again to channel all that surrounding nature and stillness into nine brilliant psychedelic folk rock tracks.

Guided by his own invented language and a self-minded and brilliantly naive way of songwriting, The Golden Pond smooths out and continues the Japanese feel (Kikagaku Moyo fans take note!) of the debut album and adds to it a unique layer that could have only come from where and how Ferrari lives. There are lots of folk instruments briefly popping up and fading out like flutes, sitars, and all kinds of percussion, but primarily it is bass, guitar, and drums that determine the flow.

Sometimes there is room for heavy fuzz, sometimes the rhythms invite for a wild dance, but most of the time it is serene listening music. Music to walk in forest to, music that draws you in, and invites you to look over the edge of that cliff over yonder to gasp at the wide views…

The beauty of The Golden Pond is that even if we might not always have time to go out and be in around nature and stillness like Ferrari, we can actually have his experience by partaking in his records. It is this extra experience that music can bring that makes it so incredibly valuable, and artists like Upupayãma a phenomenon to cherish deeply.

Written by Jasper Hesselink (Weirdo Shrine)

12. Kombynat Robotron – Dickfehler-studio-treffen-2 (Drone Rock Records)!

Fancy a ride?

Worry not, just take the trip for these aren’t strangers. The Kombynat is known and loved for their own twist on instrumental kraut rock, and with this release, the four scientists from Kiel take us further in the exploration of their vigorous driving spirit and impressive soundscapes. 

Dickfehler Studio Treffen II, like its predecessor, holds four live recordings. Meditative motorik drive, organic interplay and atmospheric psychedelic ornamentation all melt together in lengthy jams. The band knows how to gently switch gears while playing, it all ebbs and flows naturally at a steady pace. If one word was to describe the vibe of the whole album, it would be — “forward”.

Tommy’s relentless yet controlled drumming shows the direction. Claas’ bass lines provide motorik stability and comfort through warm tone. Jannes’ and Richi’s psychedelic guitars scream, whine and noise like they have been waiting to tell their story. Together, the band shifts through different moods while keeping up the suspense until the very last stroke. 

A1 Meeden – Setting: a canoe on a meandering stream. The drumming being the river bed, providing the direction we are headed (forward!). At times, cymbal strokes shine through the waves like glistering rock formations. The drifting bass as the water lets us float steadily and quickly on our canoe. We know we are carried safely. It is when the guitars enter that we notice strange cliff-dwelling reptiles, massive oddly shaped flowers, chirping birds of paradise on the shores. Softly howling guitar bends like reflections on the streaming water.

A2 Wallinghausen – A trance-like constitution in a friendly environment, like going a conveyor belt up to space, then sliding down an endless water slide, there is no beginning and there is no end, you’re right where you’re supposed to be.

B1 Moder – Busier, faster paced track with lots of experimental guitar solo goodness.

B2 Fehn – Contemplative walk through a mossy forest.

In their space lab, Kombynat Robotron create strange organic structures and landscapes on the fly. The way they play together is an inspiration and a joy to listen to. To the psych lover and sonic traveller, it probably comes as no surprise that Dickfehler Studio Treffen II made it in the Psych Lovers’ Top 20 of 2022. 

Written by Lisa Winkelmüller

13. ElonMusk/Electric Moon/ Kungens Män/Kanaan – International Space Station Vol.1 (Worst Bassist Records)

Worst Bassist Records offered us a wonderful delight with this 4-way split, a masterpiece of Space Rock. 

In charge of the take-off, ElonMusk takes the time to ignite smoothly the engines, the bass provides a soft pillow for you to lay back, echoing synths and guitars setting your mind in the proper state with laid-back but dynamic drumming pacing along. While you’re drifting in a peaceful void, suddenly they hit the hyperspace trigger in a post-rock-infused explosion, kicking in with gritty bass and heavy riffage as you hang tight on your seat.

Electric Moon fits perfectly after the heavy ending of the previous side, catching up where ElonMusk left us, with groovy numbing bass, tribal enticing drumming, and swirling guitars. They build a strong dynamic throughout, filled with trippy bursts, taking you further and further as they progressively bring more and more, before eventually breaking down to a soothing conclusion suggesting they reached their destination after this rough interdimensional travel ripping through time and space.

The Swedish prolific geniuses of Kungens Män are up next, and they take us on a laid-back cruise through the galaxy. They summon a spacey krautrock core present throughout the whole track, mesmerizing us into a hazy trance, building tension without ever releasing it. Guitars come and go, adding small touches here and there, making some trippy detours, just enough to keep your interest, without risking waking you up from your contemplative meditation.

Finally, the Norwegian prodigies of Kanaan get to bring this international space trip to an end. They kick off on nostalgic jazzy melodies, going up and down smoothly, letting their maestria shine through without ever showing off. After droning out for a bit, they pick up the tempo mid-side, each instrument seeming to become alive, building up together the typical Kanaan wholesome, with explosive jazzy drumming, rumbling groovy basslines, fuzzy swirling guitar, and spaced-out synths all coming together in a cathartic climax.

International Space Station Vol.1 is quite consistent for a 4-way split, each band gives in to their signature spacey vibes, but the whole comes together naturally. This trippy journey through the stars will take you far away, so buckle up, close your eyes, and enjoy.

By Flyin Caillou

14. IO Audio Recordings – Awaiting the Elliptical Drift/VVk (Echodelick, Fuzzed Up & Astromoon, Ramble Records and We Here & Now)

If like me, you are partial to white light accompanied with a dense fog of dry ice, then you’ve come to the right place, cause that’s the image I have in my head when I listen to this combined double EP titled ‘Awaiting The Elliptical Drift/VVK’ by Californian psych outfit IO Audio Recordings.

The first thing that jumps straight out at you is the artwork for both Eps. It makes you curious enough to perhaps wonder what the album sounds like behind the sleeve. Thankfully, the sounds compliment the artwork perfectly.

After 10 seconds of the opening S/T track, your head is filled with awash of a pulsating fuzz that circulates around your head in waves that could make one feel rather dizzy. The track settles down into a pulsating groove that will have you pretending to be a young Kevin Shields clutching a broom and staring at the ground.

A slight change in style for the next track titled, ‘Luminous Suspension’. Here we are treated to a much more eastern vibe with the use of a sitar and some clever effects layered with some ghost like vocals throughout.

‘Sunrise & Overdrive’ starts off with a very positive vibe, the kinda vibe you would wake up to on an early summers morning, one were you would take in a deep breath and inhale the fresh air of an early forest walk, one where you would climb a mountain to be greeted by a view of a lake in the Scottish highlands surrounded by the view of the sunrise over the horizon. It’s one of those tracks to get totally inspired by.

On the flipside we are greeted with the S/T track of the second EP called ‘VVK’. This track equates to a boxing match…. Me Vs VVK! This song is like going 10 rounds with a swarm of bees. You swipe your fists in every direction, knowing there is only going to be one winner! Halfway through the song, it suddenly slows down, which is akin to a fuzz knockout as you hit the deck. The track has completely hypnotised you for what seems like a few minutes. Then the bass kicks in, counting me down to a potential ‘VVK’ win. However, the track eases back in with the sound of your heartbeat as you regain consciousness. By that time, the fight is already over, and you can see ‘VVK’ doing its parade lap around the ring!

Clocking in at 10 minutes, ‘Graminita’ is the longest track on the album, which gives it time and space to gather momentum. In the opening sequence, the track would lead you to think its going to take off like some of the other tracks on the album, but it builds at a steady pace, then midway through, it changes into a meandering chilled-out drone, fading off into the distance to finish out the album.

This is not an easy album to listen to. What I mean by that is, you can’t simply put this album on and go about your daily chores. It’s an album that needs your full concentration to appreciate the sonic ambiance of the different layers and textures entering your ears. I was reminded that the best way to appreciate this album is with a pair of earphones in a dark room with added strobes and dry ice for added effect.  It’s not about who creates the music, it’s about what the music creates in you.

Written by Ian Mc Glynn

15. Mythic Sunship – Light/Flux (Tee Pee Records)

There’s something to be said for effective cover art. I love when I look at an album and have an immediate sense of exactly what my ears are going to experience when the needle hits the groove. And with Light/Flux, the ever-prolific Mythic Sunship aptly offered a cool-colored, mountainous abstract painting to portend the frosty, darker sounds within. Playing in stark contrast to the band’s excellent 2021 release, Wildfire, which featured a warm-colored, firestorm abstract painting, Light Flux displays a smoother, slower side to the group.

To call it “chill” might be a disservice, but Light/Flux certainly has a more subdued ambiance than its predecessor. Still explorative but more intentionally directed than some of the band’s more turbulent past offerings, Light/Flux leans into groovier arrangements and tackles a more prominent kosmische/krautrock vibe — all without losing that epic Mythic Sunship identity.  

As prolific and consistent as they are, it was no surprise to see Mythic Sunship’s latest efforts voted, once again, into the Psych Lovers Top Records of the year. Still, Light/Flux exceeds expectations. The album is a phenomenal addition to an already stunning catalog. Here, Mythic Sunship continues to add new textures to the modern sounds of psychedelic rock. While listening to this record might evoke a satisfying climb up a snowy mountain of psychedelic rock, the band itself stands at the summit, their sonic flag proudly waving.

Written by Ryan Sweeney (Global Garage / Doomsday Profit)

16. White Canyon & The 5th Dimension – Soundtrack forAstral Travel (Fuzzed Up & Astromoon)

I suspect that most of us became aware of White Canyon and the 5th Dimension via Arturo Quispe and his sadly now defunct label, Necio Records. However, it was Ian McGlynn & Andy Marke’s Fuzzed Up & Astromoon Records that brought us this cassette of experimental tunes and improvisations, while we waited patiently for White Canyon’s long-delayed second vinyl release on Necio.

The tape generally reveals a more relaxed and vibe from the band than their previous albums do, doubtless on account of the kosmiche nature of the tracks and the astral journey they are meant to describe, and it’s fun settling back into the various moods they project as we metaphorically cross the astral planes. There appears to be an effort to differentiate the various zones and also give an impression of time spent therein, so we have a sombre almost pastoral tune for the moon, which gives way to a dancier number for mercury, a rambunctious funky strut for the sun, and so on.

The overall mood is fairly chilled, although occasionally the tempo picks up or the fuzz kicks in to provide a nice counterpoint to the mostly dreamy material, and it all lends itself very nicely to the cassette format warm its warm and fuzzy colourations.

Cassette averse types can however get the digital files from White Canyon and the 5th Dimension’s bandcamp site, and if you liked the records I would certainly recommend giving this a punt one way or the other.

Written by Sean Gibbins

17. Korb & EHAA – Mountains to the Oceans (Dreamlord)

‘Psych’ as a genre encompasses a ridiculous amount of styles. Space rock, ambient, drone, guitar freak out, krautrock, electronic ….. it may be the broadest genre in all of music. And I swear this record does its best cover ALL of those styles in two brain melting slabs.
One track per side (as I understand it, side A is basically Korb with flourishes by El Hombre Al Agua and side B is the opposite, EL Hombre Al Agua being Canada’s Dave Reed): each track is a journey . Pathway to the Gods starts with smooth synth drones and slowly builds and builds as more instruments kick in – drums, then mellotrons, then wah wah guitar which takes in to space rock territory…. glorious.

Side B’s Chemistry and Chaos is more abstract, at first sounding like it’s been beamed it from 1972 Germany before percussion embellishments make you think of the great exploratory Miles Davis music, and finally ending up in Orb style swirls.
Remember when albums used to be a journey? This is one of those records, a magical trip where the music simply carries you and your ears thank you for the ride. Headphones a necessity.

By Mark Burnell

18. El Universo – S/T (Echodelick, Fuzzed Up & Astromoon, Weird Beard, Ramble Records)

Eder Ademar’s El Universo project from Mexico joins some of the finest kosmische and ambient sounds coming out of the more southern Americas over the last few years.

Mixed by Alberto (The Obsolete) from compatriots Lorelle Meets the Obsolete, and originally released in 2021 on cd and cassette, this Weird Beard/Fuzzed Up & Astromoon/Echodelick vinyl release is a welcome addition to their catalogues.

Ademar takes us on a one man and his guitar journey through time and the cosmos, inspired by a documentary on the first manned trips to outer space. What started as riffing along as a soundtrack to this documentary evolved into El Universo.

Side 1 has a general motorik edge, the opener, ‘The First Party on Mars’ with its effect driven layered guitar riffs over the beat pulls the listener in strongly – this is very danceable, I think.

‘Monkey & Apes’ slows the pace just a little – Ademar wrote this ‘to remember Ham, the first hominid to fly into outer space’.

No drums at all on the eponymous track. This seems more reflective then builds up into to a fuzz-filled soundscape before falling to a gentler ending – one can hear possible influences here; Spacemen 3’s ‘Honey’ is always in my head after listening to this – which is no bad thing.

‘Red Moon’ brings a darker edge but keeps apace to drive the listener along overlaying layers of guitar and electronica.

Side 2 consists of two, more longform tracks – ‘Primer Encuentro’ gives a percussion free drone, a beacon in space maybe, drawing you in.

The final track ‘La Pausa del Mundo’ pulls together the sounds that have gone before, both on this album, and paying homage to his kosmische forerunners.

Ademar has collaborated previously with likeminded space travellers to bring live El Universo experiences, more of this is to be hoped for.

Written by Denise Arkley

19. Magic Shoppe – Mono Lake (Little Cloud Records/Cardinal Fuzz)

Boston based Magic Shoppe have been purveyors in the finest psych-tinged gaze for well over a decade now. I was switched on to them by my good pal Ian from Fuzzed Up and Astromoon Records a good while back, and me being me, I forgot to follow up. Well, when I saw that they had dropped their latest album Mono Lake, I knew I had to grab a copy. Thankfully the good folks at Cardinal Fuzz had one copy left so let’s dive in and see what’s what.

The album starts with the shrieks and howls of ‘Hatchling’. This is a shoegaze masterclass and a very wise choice for an opener. A solid pop song shrouded in swathes of feedback and reverb.

Taking the tempo down a notch but losing none of the intensity comes ‘I Feel High’. This sounds like it could’ve swaggered right out of London in the nineties. I love the chainsaw guitars on this one.

Looking Right Through You’ blends that glide guitar we all love with a fuzzed-out wall of sound. As always though, at the heart of all this beautiful noise is a killer tune and a kick ass chorus. It’s kinda like The Mary Chain would sound like if they covered Bob Mould.

It’s full speed ahead into ‘Kingmaker’ and hints of Swervedriver emerge in the tones and drones. It’s a short, sharp shock of a song that I’m sure will be a live favourite. I can see the mosh pit going mad when its opening chords sound.

The cryptically titled ‘SFU 50’ follows. All moody, lurching along like a leviathan destroying all in its wake. The Spector-influenced drum breaks stand tall in its advance. Man, this song really chewed me up first time I heard it. Devoured me.

The band dial up the epic for ‘Are You There God? It’s Me, Satan’. This track sounds like it’s being performed in a desert with nothing constraining the volume or intensity of the music. This is where we really get to appreciate the depth of Josiah Webb’s vocal prowess. He lifts this song into something really quite special.

I love the darkly psych intro to ‘You Have No Reflection’. The vampiric and gothic mood of that groove meld with pounding drums and pulsing bass. It’s a hypnotic enchantment and you go willingly. Even when the track turns on its head and reverses, the spell isn’t broken, only pulling the listener ever closer, tighter.

‘Paranormal’ feels like we are in familiar sonic territory, only for that to be shattered with a squawking guitar riff stopping the song dead in its tracks. This has the effect of making everything so much more alive and vibrant when the band kick back in again.

The album closes on the slow burning ‘Drugstore Heart’. Featuring a guest performance from The Dandy Warhols’ Peter Holmström, the song opens on Webb’s potent vocal delivery and guitar. He builds the tension to the point where the song can no longer be contained, it wants to be huge. And so it is, so it must become. The band kick in and start driving that epic soundscape they do so well. It’s breathtaking listening. What a way to end the album.

Ah, but is it over?

After a few minutes of silence, a secret track ‘S.F.O’ emerges from the silence. It’s a meditative psych experience. “I never needed anyone” chants Webb through a wash of reversed sitar like guitars lending a mystical ambience to our exit from this odyssey, this dream.

Mono Lake is a journey of an album. One that takes you into the night and through the desert of your mind. Few records have that cohesive track-into-track-into- track vibe locked down as tightly as you will experience here. Do yourself a favour. Set aside some time to sit back and let Magic Shoppe whisk you away. Who knows, you might not want to come back.

Written by Mark Anderson (Static Sounds Club)

20. King Buffalo – Regenerator (Self Release)

The third and final chapter of the album threesome that King Buffalo recorded during the pandemic lockdown in 2021 is called Regenerator and once again it shows a different side to the band. Where The Burden ofRestlessness was an aggressive, heavy, and metallic record, and Acheron was the psychedelic jam album, Regenerator does exactly what it says on the tin: it liftsthe spirits and revitalizes the band and its listeners with its open and spacey sounds.

Before I could listen to the full album, I had the chance to see King Buffalo play at the Valkhof Festival in Nijmegen (Holland) and two things stood out; how frontman Sean McVay used a loop pedal to create massive guitar walls all by himself, and how motorik and hypnotic the new material sounded in a live setting. Songs like Regenerator, Mercury, and Hours all have a certain forward drive that has a definite kraut rock feel, especially when King Buffalo bring on the spacey synthesizers.

There are some softer, more melodic moments as well, and album closer Firmament showcases McVay’s most intimate vocals to date. This too fits the band like a glove, and once again you feel as a listener that this is a band at the very top of their game. It is so incredible to think that these three albums sound so differently and varied, and yet they were recorded in such a short time of each other. Regenerator is a perfect closer a well, a positive outlook on the band and its future, and a testament to what this band is capable off under duress.

Written by Jasper Hesselink (Weirdo Shrine)



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