Back in February I wrote an article that hypothesised the links between a growing underground of new psychedelic music and those that had influenced the artists involved. Since completing it I have had many thoughts about modern psychedelia and how it links together. In this piece I will discuss the work of Caribou (formerly Manitoba) and Animal Collective and continue the thread through the last decade. I will briefly examine a new idea about the beginnings of modern psychedelia in the late 1990s/early 2000s, in particular the work and effect of Mercury Rev and The Flaming Lips.

Dan Snaith’s (Caribou/Manitoba) career has covered a diverse range of genres from ‘60s psychedelia to modern dance music like Animal Collective yet there is a distinct difference between them. The principal difference being that Animal Collective are more flamboyant and confident, especially since 2005’s ‘Feels’ whereas Snaith’s music is rooted in subtle details to the point where the gorgeous electronica of ‘Start Breaking My Heart’ (2001) can seem too similar from song to song.

His next album ‘Up In Flames’ established Snaith as a psychedelic artist and his reputation for attention to detail. This album succeeded in marrying the sound of shoegaze pioneers My Bloody Valentine with the drum breaks that would become a staple of his sound for the next few releases. It was critically acclaimed, earning plaudits such as it is ‘laptop pop that shimmers, shakes and twists like the precocious child of Aphex Twin, Spiritualized and the Beatles’ (Urb magazine) and ‘approaches the psychedelic grandeur of Spiritualized or Mercury Rev at their finest while still offering a wealth of carefully placed sonic detail.’ (The Wire). It was from here Snaith would use a flexible formula of combining the latest studio technology with analogue warmth and references to psychedelic music.

Snaith then flexed his musical muscles with the delivery of ‘The Milk Of Human Kindness’ in 2005 after changing his name to Caribou due to the threat of legal action. Travelling from ‘Yeti’s propulsive ‘60s organ sounds  via the near noise fest of ‘Hands First’ and the perfect Can tribute ‘Barnowl’, this is an eclectic album that shouldn’t hold together but does with aplomb. Caribou has been undeservedly criticised for lacking cohesion yet this is hard to understand as he regularly delivers albums that reach his fanbase’s high standards. ‘The Milk of…’ is his most diverse effort to date but linking it all together is the influence of Can and in particular guitarist Michael Karoli who’s funky yet emotive style is the one thing consistent on the album.

For his next album ‘Andorra’, Caribou focused on ‘60s psychedelia and though a more focused effort it covered a large amount of ground across its nine tracks with its closer ‘Niobe’ hinting at a future daring departure. This year that move was completed with the release of the dance music influenced ‘Swim’, a record inspired by Snaith’s rediscovered love of swimming, which shows. Its layered sounds come in waves, washes of psychedelic effects shift sounds in and out of focus with the fourth track ‘Found Out’ recreating the effect that being underwater has on the perception of audio.

As mentioned, Caribou/Manitoba and Animal Collective have both covered a range of genres within psychedelic music. The reasons for choosing Animal Collective in the original article was because they, like Snaith, serve as a link to the various genres mentioned, directly or indirectly, and have been releasing music throughout the previous decade.

However, after reflection I decided that the roots lay a little further back in time. The bands that galvanised this proliferation of psychedelic music were the Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev who released their ‘The Soft Bulletin’ and ‘Deserter’s Song’s’ albums in 1998/1999. These were critically acclaimed and bands such as Luna, Home and Mercury Rev side project Hopewell also gained media exposure. It was as if for a moment that a new psychedelic movement was going to take the world by storm, but it was not be and only Mercury Rev and the Flaming Lips retain a profile similar to that they enjoyed during this period but instead of petering out psychedelic music continued to evolve into a number of forms, which has not explicitly covered in the mainstream media and many links have gone unnoticed. Though only a theory I believe it stands up as an overview of an unreported network of related of artists and their activities.

I am considering a further follow-up to the original psychedelia piece or a series of articles focusing on the shoegaze, krautrock and 70s synth music scenes and other strains of psychedelic music.

Spotify playlist (HHTP link, then Spotify link)

Psychedelia: The Return – Further Explorations

Psychedelia: The Return – Further Explorations

And now for something completely different:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=126667481

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