Once again, another album the popularity of which I am not sure of. I heard it in a coffee shop, but the girl who played it was also into some pretty random stuff, so maybe they're not so big as I think. Regardless of how well-known the band is, however, they make some pretty awesome psych rock. Like a cross between The Jesus & Mary Chain and Bardo Pond, they have a sound that is classic and easily placeable yet relatively distinctive. I won't say original, I think, because they are treading ground well mapped by the likes of Spacemen 3, My Bloody Valentine, Spiritualized, and any other psychedelic/space rock outfit you can think up. Still, that just means that Psychic Ills have roots, like any other good band.
The album isn't very... well, songy. I mean, there are songs, but they're more like distinctions between sections - mile markers along a single psychedelic road. Opening with a sort of Far-East overture, then moving seamlessly into the next track, the first song doesn't really start for a few minutes, and if you weren't already convinced of the band's quality (as I was) it may try your patience. Soon, though, the music starts in earnest. As you might expect, there are phasers involved. There is quite a bit of layering and hypnotic vibration in the guitars, which travel on their own, seeking a tonic which does not exist for that level of distortion. The vocals are obscured by reverb and rendered somewhat androgynous, but they add a nice hazy layer to the music. The bass and drums are more rhythmic more than musical, and most of the real music is done in the high end.
There are really only four songs on the album, with introductory/separating tracks of various length and nature. The first two are more straightforward, but the last two are more enjoyable to me. What's the point of an instrumental break if it's only 45 seconds long? "I Knew My Name" addresses this question by beginning the song - this is after the 2-minute intro track, you understand, which was trippy enough - with a further 4 minutes of hot bass-on-drums action before breaking into the song proper. This raises the question of whether it was in fact an instrumental break, or whether they are just having a vocal break from an instrumental song. Lao Tzu pondered the same question. Sort of. Anyway, after another tweener track, you have the album-ending "Another Day Another Night," which is excellent but more fun than the other songs, which makes you feel weird. Should you be having fun? This is serious music! Stop bobbing your knee! Knit your brow!
I hear these guys are pretty nuts live, too, so if you see them posted on a wall somewhere, write down the date. As good as this album is, I get the feeling it's only a shadow of what they're like live, improvising at full volume.
Here's "I Knew My Name," by Psychic Ills.
Well! That file's definitely 16 megabytes... that'll take nice and long to download. It's good though.