Trip­ping the light phan­tas­magoric

Pasatiempo - - Pasa Tempos -

Back to Phosphene Dream — what we have here in­deed is trippy. But not all trips are happy af­fairs. In fact, some are down­right scary. And I be­lieve there used to be a term — “bum­mer” — to de­scribe chem­i­cally in­duced un­pleas­ant­ness. The An­gels have song ti­tles like “River of Blood” and “Bad Vi­bra­tions,” which I guar­an­tee will never be used in a Sunkist com­mer­cial. “Drink her last tear/Yeah you die for your dear/Bad vibes around her/She’s eat­ing hearts again,” Maas sings in “Bad Vi­bra­tions.”

But no, this record is no bum­mer by any means. In fact, it makes me happy. As I said, the mu­sic here is more var­ied than ever. There’s more at­ten­tion to melody, some of which is ac­tu­ally catchy. And less shoegaz­ing and more toe-tap­ping.

“Tele­phone,” which the An­gels re­cently per­formed on the Late Show With David

Let­ter­man, clocks in at less than two min­utes. But it’s a minute and 59 sec­onds worth of sheer fun — a snazzy lit­tle garage rocker with Bri­tish In­va­sion over­tones. “Sun­day Af­ter­noon” even has a lit­tle Texas funk in it. I could eas­ily imag­ine Hun­dred Year Flood hav­ing a go at this one. “Yel­low El­e­va­tor #2” starts out with a bass line right out of The Zom­bies’ “Time of the Sea­son,” and a cheesy key­board right out of the B-52’s “Rock Lob­ster” some­how evolves into a Bea­tles vibe. The end re­minds me of “I Want You (She’s So Heavy) — and all this un­folds in less than three min­utes.

What is it with The An­gels’ strange ob­ses­sion with snipers? On their first al­bum,

Passover, they had a song called “The Sniper at Heaven’s Gate.” Phosphene Dream ends with a dis­turbingly happy-sound­ing lit­tle num­ber called “The Sniper.”

“Phosphene” refers to see­ing lights when your eye­lids are closed. Close your eyes and lis­ten to this al­bum. See where the lights lead you. Check out www.the­blackan­gels.com.

Also rec­om­mended:

Slovenly Records Sam­pler 2010 by var­i­ous artists. Don’t say I never gave ya nothin’. Be­low is a link to a free 55-song mp3 sam­pler of punk, garage, and weird noises from Slovenly Records, a Reno, Ne­vada, com­pany. The only catch is that you have to sign up for its email list.

Slovenly’s not very well known as a la­bel, and many of the acts on this sam­pler are not known at all. But scat­tered among the artists here are sev­eral im­pres­sive names from many coun­tries. From Great Bri­tain there’s Billy Child­ish and his lat­est band, Mu­si­cians of the Bri­tish Em­pire. There are Wau y Los Ar­rrghs!!! and Hollywood Sin­ners from Spain and King Au­to­matic, the French one-man garage band. And from these United States are Black Lips and Reign­ing Sound.

Some of my fa­vorite songs are tracks by bands I had never heard of. There’s a surf ver­sion of the Spi­der-Man theme (from the old car­toon show) by a Span­ish band called Los Pat­a­conas. “Dyn-o-mite” by the now-de­funct Ape City R&B, a Washington-state band in­flu­enced by the An­gry Samoans, among oth­ers, is raw snot rock with echoes of long­for­got­ten ’60s garage groups. Elec­tric Crush from San An­to­nio plays low-fi psy­che­delic freak­out on “Clock Stands Still.”

Most of the voices you hear on the sam­pler are male. Among the re­fresh­ing ex­cep­tions is that of a lady known as “Helene 33” of The Ok­moniks, a Tuc­son band.

Per­haps the catchi­est tune here is “Your Love, the of­fer­ing from Reign­ing Sound, led by Greg Cartwright, for­merly of The Obli­vians. If you lis­ten close enough you can hear Mo­town in this one.

Most ridicu­lous is The Ridicu­lous Trio, an in­stru­men­tal group — trom­bone, tuba, drums — that spe­cial­izes in in­stru­men­tal cov­ers of Stooges songs. Here the three­some does “Down on the Street.” It’s lots of fun, but I don’t think Iggy did it this way.

But don’t take my word for it. Hear it your­self: www.slovenly.com/mp3s. And if you like rpms bet­ter than mp3s, most of these are avail­able from Slovenly on vinyl 45s.

Psy­che­delic mu­sic and scream­ing crazi­ness on your ra­dio dial: I play this kind of weird stuff on pub­lic air­waves on Ter­rell’s

Sound World, freeform weirdo ra­dio 10 p.m. Sun­day. And it’s stompin’ time ev­ery Fri­day at 10 p.m. on The Santa Fe Opry, the coun­try mu­sic Nashville does not want you to hear. Both are on KSFR-FM 101.1. It’s stream­ing and scream­ing at www.ksfr.org.

Pod­cast your fate to the wind: My Big En­chi­lada is hot and tasty, and I’ve been do­ing it at least once a month for two full years now. Hear my fa­vorite mu­sic — and maybe even yours — on your iPod or right there on your com­puter. Check out my grow­ing list of pod­casts at www.bi­gen­chi­ladapod­cast.com. Once again, The Black An­gels de­liver a psy­che­delic whump.

With Phosphene Dream, their third ful­l­length al­bum, these cos­mic avengers from deep in the heart of Texas of­fer a more var­ied sound than on their pre­vi­ous al­bums. The songs are shorter too. No 16-or 18-minute sonic odysseys like they had on Di­rec­tions to See a Ghost and Passover. Front­man Alex Maas sounds more con­fi­dent than ever — though he still re­minds me some­what of Jim James of My Morn­ing Jacket.

But make no mis­take. As I re­al­ized the first time I ever heard The An­gels — play­ing at a Roky Erick­son Ice Cream So­cial dur­ing SXSW a cou­ple of years ago — these guys play psy­che­delic mu­sic in the finest sense of the word. Like Erick­son’s mu­sic, this is not the fairyfey flower-power fluff that passes for psy­che­delic in some de­luded cir­cles. These an­gel-headed hip­sters play in­tense, throb­bing, hyp­notic ex­cur­sions to in­ner worlds — true to the song that gave them their name, “The Black An­gel’s Death Song” by The Vel­vet Un­der­ground.

Some­thing to pon­der: if Erick­son wanted to make an al­bum with a young Austin band, he should have done it with The Black An­gels, not Okkervil River — as he did on his last al­bum, True Love Cast Out All Evil. That would have been a far more pow­er­ful team. (The An­gels have backed Erick­son in con­cert. Al­legedly, there’s a DVD of that in the works, and you can find videos of live songs on YouTube.)

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