Music

Various Artists: Realistic Patterns: Orchestrated Psychedelia from the USA

Psychic Circle puts their DIY compilation label on the map with these orchestrated psychedelic nuggets full of life and substance not commonplace in the world of obscure cuts.


Various Artists

Realistic Patterns

Subtitle: Orchestrated Psychedelia from the USA
Label: Psychic Circle
US Release Date: Available as import
UK Release Date: 2008-01-07
Amazon
iTunes

Over the past several years, smaller niche markets have started to become more DIY oriented as the bigger label support crumbling beneath their feet. Among the genres most notably contributing to the niche are soul/R&B, funk, jazz, and the enormous number of psychedelic nugget compilations. With so many reissue labels and compilations floating around, it’s hard to decipher which ones are actually worth the high price tags that smaller labels are forced to charge.

It all comes down to the compiler and the staff’s passion behind these labels -- we’ve all learned that Numero dig up some of the tastiest nuggets, Soul Jazz create some of the best retrospective period compilations in the business, and you can always turn to Trunk for the sounds that are from another planet. It usually only takes one release to make or break these labels, and after a solid couple dozen releases on Psychic Circle, they may have finally laid their permanent mark with Realistic Patterns: Orchestrated Psychedelia from the USA

As mentioned, one of the most important elements in reissue labels are the compilers and the heads of the labels themselves, and Psychic Circle has one of the better teams behind the drawing board. The label is owned by Steven Carr (one owner of Radioactive) and the compiler is Nick Saloman, lead man of '60s psych-revivalists the Bevis Frond. Finding a topic to keep an audience interested in buying a compilation from a semi-obscure label is the true test -- and orchestrated psychedelia is by and large the cleverest release from Pyschic Circle yet.

Ochestrated psychedelic cuts were usually those in the '60s that got thrown to the wayside as cheap b-sides or corny off-shoots from respectable bands. Saloman proves that something other than fuzzy guitars and pummeling drums can fit within the pallet of psychedelia, and he does it with the help of 20 bands that understood quality arrangements. Featuring artists ranging from the unknown to the obscure collector all the way to deep cuts by bands like the Moon -- which featured Matthew Moore (who worked with Leon Russell and Joe Cocker) and former Beach Boy David Marks -- the attention to detail in the compiling of tracks for Realistic Patterns is imposing and laudable.

While some cuts, such as Burned’s “All Those Who Enter Here”, which was released on a temporary subsidiary of Mercury, and Bubble’s “I Call Her Lady” on Dot Records (both released as one-off 45s only), are nearly unknown to any normal record collector, there are cuts that will prove to familiar to the everyday psych-collector. Present is one of the best examples of orchestrated psychedelia, the 31st of February’s classic baroque-style cut “Pedestals”, which features future Allman Butch Trucks behind the kit (Greg and Duane were also known to sit in with the band), while Tim Widle’s “Popcorn Double Feature” provides the original of the Searchers' smash hit, written by Larry Weiss (also responsible for “Rhinestone Cowboy” -- quite the change of pace).

Realistic Patterns does follow suit to a nagging trend in obscure compilations, and that is a lack of research. While folks like Numero have gained their recognition for the deep research put into the tracks they compile (the backstories contained in the liner notes are often just as interesting as the tracks), Psychic Circle is willing to put out a track they can find little to no information on. It can only make one wonder if they really put the time into doing deep research to find the info. For example, the liner notes behind the track “I Had the Notion” by the Sound Solution claims, “Well, here’s a great track from a clearly excellent band, and I could find absolutely nothing about them.” But if these backstories and discoveries are part of the reason people buy these compilations, then how are they clearly excellent? This isn’t to shortchange the effort put into Psychic Circle’s compilations, but more extensive research for the liner notes would be a definite encouragement for purchasing these comps in the future.

While Realistic Patterns: Orchestrated Psychedelia from the USA has its commonplace flaws, it’s strength of track selections and precise compiling should leave Psychic Circle as a go to label for tracks that are obscure, but also full of substance. Steven Carr and Nick Saloman have built the right foundations for a fantastic adventure into the world of compilations, and if they continue to grow, there is no doubt they will find themselves a place in the niche of ever-growing DIY compilation labels.

7

In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

This week on our games podcast, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

This week, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

Keep reading... Show less

Which is the draw, the art or the artist? Critic Rachel Corbett examines the intertwined lives of two artists of two different generations and nationalities who worked in two starkly different media.

Artist biographies written for a popular audience necessarily involve compromise. On the one hand, we are only interested in the lives of artists because we are intrigued, engaged, and moved by their work. The confrontation with a work of art is an uncanny experience. We are drawn to, enraptured and entranced by, absorbed in the contemplation of an object. Even the performative arts (music, theater, dance) have an objective quality to them. In watching a play, we are not simply watching people do things; we are attending to the play as a thing that is more than the collection of actions performed. The play seems to have an existence beyond the human endeavor that instantiates it. It is simultaneously more and less than human: more because it's superordinate to human action and less because it's a mere object, lacking the evident subjectivity we prize in the human being.

Keep reading... Show less
3

Gabin's Maigret lets everyone else emote, sometimes hysterically, until he vents his own anger in the final revelations.

France's most celebrated home-grown detective character is Georges Simenon's Inspector Jules Maigret, an aging Paris homicide detective who, phlegmatically and unflappably, tracks down murderers to their lairs at the center of the human heart. He's invariably icon-ified as a shadowy figure smoking an eternal pipe, less fancy than Sherlock Holmes' curvy calabash but getting the job done in its laconic, unpretentious, middle-class manner.

Keep reading... Show less
5
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image