The Black Angels - Phosphene Dream (Blue Horizon)

60's psychedelic rock is alive and thriving in The Black Angels.

Released Sep 13th, 2010 via Blue Horizon / By Brendan Morgan
The Black Angels - Phosphene Dream (Blue Horizon) God bless the Acid Rock scene. Coming back in small waves since its 60’s heyday, it gave punk wings, fuelled the club era and gave countless bands inspiration and scope along the way. Its problem like any bygone scene is that it has a way of digging itself into a hole. Following the success of The Brian Jonestown Massacre, a flavour of bands have been touting the same neo-psychedelic trip for years now.

But there is something different about The Black Angels music: its wild spirit, sinister atmosphere, now driven by a will to seek new horizons. Their new album is an altogether more flowery affair, with bright rhythm and riff changes vaguely reminiscent of early Floyd, though their hallmark droning blues is clearly here to stay.

‘Bad Vibrations’ kicks it off with pounding drums and pulsing organ, throbbing like a memory murdering hangover. Already their familiar droning, evil-eye guitar riffs and foot stomping Rock settles in like a heavy mist. Then suddenly, three minutes into the track, a scream blows it away and we find ourselves running for our lives. Even the catchy ‘Yellow Elevator’ ending with a slow jam and a mystical effect on Alex Maas’ voice doesn’t allow the mood to settle for long. ‘True Believers’ begins like a Jefferson Aeroplane jam, falls into stoned reverie and takes off again with the punchy Kinks-come-The Doors ‘Telephone’.

Behind these tinted fragments of a revered counter-culture, danger also lurks in the echoing lyrics: “He takes his pill so he can kill, praise the Bible” This mixture of religion and violence is the nasty side of America. It seems almost as if The Black Angels are carefully decoding American mythology. In Passover it was the popular myths: The Road Trip, The Vietnam War; this time it’s the oldest and most powerful myth in God’s Country.

With better song crafting and a superb production from Blue Horizon Records The Black Angels are working hard and pushing on. Phosphene Dream displays increasing energy and a widening direction for them. Drawing material from nearly every psychedelic band of the 60’s The Black Angels were never hugely original or even ‘far out’ in its truest sense of the phrase. But these days there are few that will come close to this kind of Californian freak Rock and hypnotic cool. A word to the wise.