Review of Psychedelica 3 Album by Northern Star Records

Review of the compilation 'Psychedelica 3' released through Northern Star.

Northern Star Records Psychedelica 3 Album

What Scott Causer doesn't know about the development of offbeat, occasionally substance-enhanced guitar music probably isn't worth knowing about. From the first wave of garage rock and freakbeat in the 1960s through to the mid-eighties fascination with all things Paisley patterned and the next decade's shoegaze phenomenon, this walking talking encyclopaedia has seen or at least heard pretty much every artist who's dabbled with what can overall be described as the psychedelic side of musical experimentation in recent years. The only problem of course, in an industry that seems to be more concerned with making a fast buck out of artists with no longevity, was how to get these artists heard by a wider audience. The motto "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em" springs to mind here, and the label Northern Star Records was born. "Why not form a band instead?" I hear you ask incandescently. Well he has; his Perfect Blue project, a largely instrumental combo that deal in ambient electronica sit quite healthily amidst this compilation.

Because make no mistake, this isn't just any old compilation. Instead, 'Psychedelica 3' feels almost like a showcase event for an underground world of guitar music most people probably aren't aware exists. You could even label this an A&R briefing if any of the said men in suits actually had a pair of balls to go with the directives to sign the next.? rather than going with their instincts instead. Clocking in at an astonishing 33 tracks in total, there really is something for anyone with any interest in guitar music that just dares to try and do something slightly to the left side of the normal equilibrium.

Following on from the first two compilations in this (so far) trilogy, some of the artists here you'll be familiar with, others not so. Texas stoners The Black Angels represent probably the biggest name here in terms of success in 2008, their 'You On The Run' being one of the standouts from their 'Directions To See A Ghost' long-player and here too. Likewise shoegaze-cum-drone veterans The Telescopes and Atlanta garage rockers The Hiss, who both provide timely reminders of why they're still held in such reverence.

It's the voyage of discovery in finding new bands though that makes 'Psychedelica 3' a must-have record, and Sydney's Belles Will Ring and Boston Massachusetts combo The December Sound both contribute two of the strongest tracks here, the former's more scuzzy take on mid-period Byrdsism working gleefully alongside the latter's sonic aviation that recalls A Place To Bury Strangers at their more introverted. Elsewhere, Leeds duo The Insect Guide hit the right notes like a patchouli-scented Stereolab on 'Frozen' while Pennsylvania's Sunsplit give Shocking Blue's 'Love Buzz', better known of course for being a certain three-piece from Seattle's first single, an even more drastic makeover.

As compilations go, 'Psychedelica 3' is a box of delights that actually delivers what it boasts on the package plus more besides. Let's hope Mr Causer unearths some more gems in the not too distant future.

Dom Gourlay

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