It’s genuinely offensive that people can describe indie-poppers Blossoms as being “steeped in a northern English psychedelic melodicism” when there are bands like Carlisle’s The Lucid Dream hewing sonic cathedrals of psychedelic sludge that their chart-bothering peers couldn’t comprehend if they tried. If we lived in a fairer world then their new release ‘Compulsion Songs’ would have slingshotted to the top of the charts rather than Blossoms’ lip service-paying debut.  Sadly this world is not a fair one and so this stonking slab of Krautrock-infused psychedelia will go largely unnoticed by all except aging, disillusioned ex-hippies and those inhabitants of Carlisle lucky enough to have access to broadband. 

‘Compulsion Songs’ is a genuinely thrilling release that begs to be played over and over again. It’s clear that the quartet’s northerly hideaway has granted them an unparalleled vantage point from which to observe and consume music from all around the rest of the country. This, coupled with the lack of any stifling influence from any significant regional scene of their own, allows them to mash together the distinct sounds of other towns, cities and regions to great effect. On ‘I’m A Star In My Own Right’ the band marry a sparse melodica (synonymous with Staines ever since Hard-Fi dropped ‘Cash Machine’) to the oppressive rhythmic shudder of Bristolian trip-hop to create the finest moment on the album. Elsewhere ‘21st Century’ finds the band injecting ‘Sgt. Pepper’ with the modern vitriol of Leeds’ Eagulls, while ‘Bad Texan’ sounds a little like Hull’s Throbbing Gristle kidnapping Ian Brown and drowning him in the Humber. 

Throughout the album the stellar bass-work of Mike Denton and the pulse of Luke Anderson’s drums keep the group’s unwieldy sound from veering of course. The rhythmic duo lock together seamlessly, laying down a motorik backbone for Mark Emmerson and Wayne Jefferson to flesh out with walls of guitar sound. It’s a shame that Denton’s basslines aren’t higher in the mix considering how central they are to the band’s live performances. In general, however, the soundbleed-friendly mixing of ‘Compulsion Songs’ lends itself to the band’s penchant for mixing together myriad sounds and styles into a soup of soaring noise. 

If you were expecting a dissection of Mark Emmerson’s lyrics then I suggest you get in touch with him personally. As usual his vocals (which owe a serious debt to Richard Ashcroft pre-megalomania) are so drowned in reverb that all of King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard armed with nets couldn’t fish them out. But who needs words when you’re possibly the greatest purveyors of layered, brutalist psychedelia currently operating in the country? The only hint of self-doubt on the album comes from the band’s decision to separate final mammoth tracks ‘Nadir’ and ‘Epitaph’ rather than going the whole hog and finishing on a 20 minute song. When they feel ready to take that final step then they can enter the crowded pantheon of psychedelic gods.

This Lucid Dream article was written by Josh Gray, a GIGsoup contributor. Photo by Danny Payne Photography:

The Lucid Dream 'Compulsion Songs'

The Lucid Dream ‘Compulsion Songs’

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