HYPNOTIC BRIDGE RECORDS
Hypnotic Bridge Records is dedicated to releasing psychedelic music on 7" vinyl, with impressive sleeve art that's completely in the spirit of the music. Since my last article on the label, a few more singles have arrived from them.
The Premonitions are a Los Angeles band who include members of Cheap Tissue and The Neumans. Their Some Strange Lust is rooted in the 60s garage rock sound, and whilst you'll find the usual ingredients of this genre here - wild impassioned vocals, guitar and organ riffs underscored by a layer of fuzz, intense psych guitar soloing - they completely avoid any sort of 'garage by numbers' approach. The song is multifaceted, changing throughout, adding new segments to keep the listener on their toes. The intro and outro step out of the garage entirely, the piece opening with a filmic mini-soundscape with abstract use of autoharp backed by rumbling sound effects, and closing with a mellow psych segment with meandering organ and chilled out vocals. Once in a Blue Moon is even more psychedelic, and turns the multifaceted nature of their sound up to max. It's made up of multiple parts, each one written by a different band member. The piece segues again and again into new sections taking in ring modulator providing whooshing, shimmering sci-fi sound effects, atmospherically tinkling autoharp, orchestration, joyous ba-ba-bas, and an amazing baroque harpsichord melody, as backing for an incredibly catchy psych-pop song. A really superb single from a band I'm keen to hear more from.
Jovian Tea are Chris Mercado (The Mad Walls), Glenn Brigman (Triptides) and Hypnotic Bridge founder Stu Pope. Their Strange World 7" comprises two cover versions of songs that were credited as Untitled No. 1 and Untitled No. 2 by Unknown, when they appeared on the compilation LP Incredible Sound Show Stories vol 1: The Technicolour Milkshake, reportedly having been rescued from a white label acetate from the late 60s which had no band or song titles listed. On the CD reissue of this compilation, the band name was still unknown, but the compilers took a guess at the song titles being Flies on the Ceiling and Red & Green Talking Machine. Jovian Tea have also gone with Red & Green Talking Machine for the second track, though have chosen Strange World as a title for the first, which being a lyric from the chorus does seem like it probably was the unknown band's intended name for this song.
Recorded as faithfully as possible to the originals, these two songs encapsulate the mood of late 60s British psych-pop, whimsical and almost fairytale-like, with a childlike ability to find fascination in the small things and transform them into something profound, while retaining an offbeat, clever sense of humour.
Whilst Jovian Tea are from California, Strange World is sung in a convincing middle-class English accent. It tells the story of a man lying down watching a fly crawl across the ceiling, feeling like he's upside down, before switching to the perspective of the fly, indignant at the people below and their habit of waging war on his kind for no apparent reason with their paper and spray. The lyrics show an intelligent wit that easily rivals that of Lewis Carroll or Edward Lear. Red & Green Talking Machine isn't some surreal, fantastical contraption but a parrot. Except this one doesn't talk! There's a great psych guitar solo on this track, and both songs feature effective use of whirling Farfisa. The overall sound is along similar lines to early Pink Floyd or any number of the more obscure bands on compilations like Rubble. The sleeve too goes for an authentic 60s approach, based on the art from The Smoke's 1967 single Have Some More Tea, another song that taps into the same kind of psychedelic whimsy, albeit slightly rockier. Jovian Tea would love to know who was responsible for the original versions of these songs, and urge anyone who knows about the songs or the band who recorded them to contact them.
Red River Dream are headed up by singer-songwriter Constantine Hastalis (better known simply as Constantine), who is joined by members of Secret Colours, Soft Candy, and Triptides. Stylised desert art with parched trees and a prowling coyote under the blazing sun, accompanied by a wavy psychedelic font, set the scene for the music within. Silver Ship is the kind of psychedelic folk-rock typified by The Byrds, peppered with the jangling 12-string and harmony vocals you might expect, though they combine this with an expressive organ solo best summed up as prog rock meets baroque, which melds seamlessly into a wild, wah-wah-laden psych-out. Somewhere at the Edge of Time features twanging, clanging guitar and mournful trumpet straight out of a vintage Wild West movie, juxtaposed with heady psychedelic guitar soloing. Great stuff, I'm hoping this band isn't just a one-off collaboration.
Les Pommes de Lune, from Québec, give us two French-lyric cover versions on their Première Transmissions 7". First up is Une Fleur, originally an obscure Yé-Yé B-side from 1967 by French singer and actress Christine Delaroche. This sounds like a massive pop hit, with a catchy, quintessentially 60s pop tune set to a big cinematic arrangement, with a galloping rhythm augmented by crashing kettle drums, along with triumphant brass fanfares and bursts of fierce fuzz guitar. Next is a French rewrite of Status Quo's Pictures of Matchstick Men, known here as Les Chimères. It's gloriously psychedelic, with lashings of wah-wah, spacey synth whooshes, and swirling sound effects, culminating in an instrumental section of pure unrestrained intensity.
The latest 7" on Hypnotic Bridge is from a band I'm sure most readers will be familiar with, The Bevis Frond, the long-running project of multi-instrumentalist Nick Saloman. Here are two great songs that straddle the boundaries between psychedelia, powerpop and indie rock, pulling together influences from the 1960s, 70s and 90s with ease to create a cohesive whole. The songwriting of Typical Freakout makes me think of a mix of Anton Barbeau and 1990s Teenage Fanclub, while the arrangement is peppered with searing guitar solos with an authentic 1970s sound, made all the more authentic by being played on a 1970s Burns Flyte guitar fed through a 1970s Carlsbro Stingray amp. You Best Beware is melodic, emotional indie rock with psychedelic leanings, in which an ultra-catchy tune is underscored by powerpop fuzz and chug and punctuated by more of that intense, intricate 70s-style guitar work, along with an expressive organ solo played on a 1960s Vox Continental. Fans of The Bevis Frond cannot afford to miss this single! The sleeve too is worthy of mention, with artwork and fonts that make this look like an authentic period piece from the original psychedelic era, while the back cover sees a reappearance of one of the swamp men from The Bevis Frond's 1987 album Miasma, a nice touch that will be appreciated by long term fans of this band.
Hypnotic Bridge has all the features that make for the best kind of record label. It's clearly a labour of love, with Stu's personal tastes driving what gets released. The music fits broadly into a single genre while having enough variety to avoid the sort of homogenised all-the-sameness that plagues much mainstream music, and the label can be trusted to release top quality sounds within this genre. There are no 'B-sides' in the sense of dumping grounds for substandard tracks - everything here is of a similarly high standard. This is one of those labels where you can easily buy stuff without hearing it first and know up front you're going to love it. These are all the things I loved about the indiepop labels that were my first exposure to underground music back in the day, especially Sarah Records, and now Hypnotic Bridge is doing the same thing for psychedelia. I wholeheartedly recommend this label and am eager to hear what they bring out next. Visit www.hypnoticbridge.com
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