02 September 2014

Crystal Tapes, The John Merricks

Anything that comes packaged in a burlap sack is great, be it potatoes or a bright red cassette. This one happens to contain the latter in the form of Crystal Tapes by The John Merricks. I’m not sure if this is simply an Elephant Man reference or his actual name, but the music certainly has a deceptively light hearted exterior concealing a bizarre and sometimes disconcerting underside.

If you enjoy psychedelia this is definitely something you should give a listen, although it’s probably more akin to Can, Neu!, and other krautrock bands than to straight ahead Psych rock. The tracks on this are composed mostly of pounding percussion, repetitious simple melodies, and clanging guitars that build to cacophonous peaks of bliss. There are fantastic moments where the music seems to take a breath; stopping the propulsive drums and letting the synths and guitars float briefly, before cutting though the haze with a few simple notes and continuing their ascent into cosmic chaos.

Behind the whimsical, often zany circus like nature of these songs is always the disconcerting and somewhat maniacal sounds of discordant guitars and warbling keyboards. The combination of playfulness with a darker uneasy edge is what I think makes compelling psychedelia, and this album thoroughly accomplishes that. I hope to hear more from this group soon. Check them out, pick up a cassette in red or blue.

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