Every now and again a psychedelic revival pops its head over the cultural duvet, tie dyes a few clothes, copies a few early Pink Floyd riffs and disappears again in a purple haze.
The best of these revivals was in the 1980s when XTC, with a lot of help from our Top Ten Producer John Leckie, produced two pitch perfect 60s influenced psychedelic albums as Dukes of Stratosphear called Psonic Psunspot and 25 O’Clock. These two gems went on to heavily influence The Stone Roses and others over the next few years.
The revival has popped back again in recent years and created something of a crowded market. Australian act Tame Impala are probably the most commercially pleasing of the bunch, but while faithful to the spirit of the likes of Pink Floyd they lack the English whimsy that typifies the genre and in which the Dukes were so accomplished.
Over in the UK, the likes of Voluntary Butler Scheme and Jim Noir are leading the field with lashings of English whimsy as they combine psychedelia and pop with great effect.
Lurking in the lava lamp shadows of this UK revival is Dollby, aka Oliver Cherer, who were are told has been making music for a decade and used to play Theremin in the band Cooler. In his latest album Further Excursions Into the Ulu With Dollboy is certainly making a strong case to be considered alongside the likes of Noir. There’s more folk than pop to Cherer’s take on psychedelia and not all the tracks work, but when they do succeed they feature some sumptuous harmonies, melodies and musicianship.
One of our highlight Seven Again Or Dust finds him “like ghosts on a Victorian verandha with the clock striking seven again, then 10, 11 and 12 and 13.” While the Dukes’ clock goes up to 25, one that goes up to 13 is still fairly impressive in psychedelic circles. The Donovan-esque Alice in Clearwater is another highpoint.
There are also some neat harmonies on display on particular on tenth track A Golden Age, which the Dukes would have been proud of, and like 7 Again Or Dust, it is a track that could almost be a single, well, a single in a strange alternative hallucinatory version of our universe.
Can Cherer achieve the commercial success of Tama Impala or the critical success of the likes of Noir? If this current psychedelic revival can hold out anything’s possible. He certainly has the talent and the musical credentials to battle it out for attention in this crowded retro market.
by Joe Lepper