Do Eat The Brown Acid
Psychedelia is a a genre/ style I have much interest in and I do believe it’s currently making a comeback as evidenced by the popularity of bands such as the Flaming Lips, Spiritualized, Deerhunter and even Fleet Foxes.
Or, did it ever really leave?
Psychedelic rock evolved in the 60s as an offshoot of the rock and roll movement combining elements of rock, reggae, and other diverse elements. Inspired by the use of mind altering drugs like cannabis, mescaline, psilocybin, and especially LSD, psychedelic rock broke with traditional rock and laid the roots for psychedelic metal and experimental rock genres. In the USA bands like the Doors, the Grateful Dead, and Jefferson Airplane lead the way for later bands like 13th Floor Elevators, Bubble Puppy, and Third Bardo (of “I’m Five Years Ahead Of My Time” fame) to name a few. A few years later The Who and The Beatles picked up on the psychedelic movement with tunes like “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” and “Tomorrow Never Knows”, but were not strictly classified as psychedelic rock. Cream and Pink Floyd (with original founder Syd Barrett) embraced psychedelic music fully becoming two of the first truly psychedelic bands.
Psychedelia could also be interpreted as simply a “surreal and dreamy feeling” in a particular song, instead of a specific genre with rules to follow. In some cases this simply requires writing one coherent song, then to experiment recording that song in the studio while under “psychedelic influence”, yielding very surreal musical results.
Neo-psychedelia is a broad term used to describe groups with overt psychedelic influences. Much like traditional psychedelia, neo-psychedelia is associated with experimental and jam-oriented music. Many modern bands incorporate elements of traditional psychedelia into their music, such as the Boo Radleys, Primal Scream, the Orb, Air, Olivia Tremor Control, Caribou, Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev along with an endless list of others. In addition, many jam bands, like Umphrey’s McGee, Phish, Califone and Rusted Root, play psychedelia-influenced music. However, the art-rock band Tool leads the pack commercially in the neo-psychedelic genre, maintaining number one albums and sold out stadium shows. Much like Pink Floyd, they have over the top psychedelic shows, but with a darker edge.
The shoegaze genre of the late 80’s, mid 90’s also bordered on the psychedelic with its drones and ethereal dreamlike qualities and odd feedback. My Bloody Valentine and Ride were two of the best progenitors of this sub-genre of psychedelia.
Also stigmatized and ignored but nonetheless worth noting – perhaps the most influential psychedelic band of modern times – Ozric Tentacles – discovered a new and potent source of psychedelia in the mid eighties that propelled them into the next century, spawning and influencing a whole slew of other bands such as: Eat Static and Nodens Ictus, Wooden Baby, Zub Zub, The Ullulators, and The Oroonies.