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Psicomagia, USA

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Psicomagia - s/t. 2013 El Paraiso CD + LP.

Like yesterday's Ampledeed, Psicomagia pay homage to one of my personal favorite styles of music. Not Canterbury this time, but rather the freaked out - yet still highly melodic - early 1970s European jazz rock scene. There were many bands operating in Continental Europe that had been influenced by Frank Zappa's landmark "Hot Rats" 1969 masterpiece. Perhaps that's why San Diego based Psicomagia chose a Danish label to release their album? Ha! Not really of course, since El Paraiso is responsible for similar retro artists coming from contemporary Denmark like Causa Sui and Papir. And Psicomagia are no strangers to the retro play either, as saxophonist Brian Ellis also plays in Astra (on lead guitar) - a band that I personally adore, though inexplicably I have yet to feature here on UTRCD (I'll fix that eventually).

There are only 4 tracks on Psicomagia's debut, and the centerpiece is the two part 27 minute 'El Congreso'. The Spanish titles are not insouciant additions, but rather foreshadow the Spanish poetry interlaced throughout (in very small doses, so don't worry instrumental fans). But the delivery is  deliciously psychotic, yet another reverent memento to the early 70s masters. There are some truly sublime moments interspersed throughout, that achieve supreme peak moments. Sudden shifts in meter is intersected by tight wind charts and insane synthesizer soloing, which are seriously head turning material. Worth noting there isn't any guitar here, but the keyboard tones are such that you won't miss it. At times I was reminded of Larry Young's organ sound on Love Cry Want.

There's only a couple of grumps here from my side: 1) The bass is way too high in the mix and tends to drown out the other instruments. If it were played in the crisp pulsating Zeuhl style, then OK, it would be warranted. But it really sounds muddy - which is a shame since Trevor Mast seems to be putting in a very fine performance. 2) There's no sense of editing, which is a problem for many modern bands. It's straight heroin. Some of the solos could have been trimmed a bit, and a little more subtlety applied on these instrumentals would have been much welcomed. Going full blast / screaming loud all the time is not a virtue, except perhaps in certain fields of metal, punk, and electronica. Regarding 2), this is where I would think a studied listen to an album like Moving Gelatine Plates' "The World of Genius Hans" or National Health's "Of Queues and Cures" would pay enormous dividends. I think fixing both of these issues would produce a modern masterpiece. They're close as it is - despite these flaws. Highly recommended.

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