Dreams

I’ve seen some really good gigs this year- Mogwai at the Albert Hall, MIchael Head at Gorilla and David Byrne at the Apollo all live long in the memory-  but as a double bill Wooden Shjips supported by The Lucid Dream at Gorilla on Saturday night will be hard to beat. Gorilla is a small venue in a railway arch, holding about 500 people, an ideal place to see bands close up, with no barriers between audience and players. The Lucid Dream, four young men from Carlisle, are a band whose time has surely come. Drilled, inventive and loud they have made good on the promise a lot of bands in the early 90s made, to fuse psychedelic rock with dance music. Lined up across the stage they kick off with an electronic drumbeat from the pile of kit, pedals, drum machine, samplers and suchlike standing next to Mark Emmerson’s microphone. The drummer joins in with the ‘real’ kit and then bass and guitars pile in as one, psyche-rock and acid house conjoined in a hugely impressive way. At times they sound a bit like the early Verve but then soar outwards from that point into psyche rather than mid-paced everyman ballads. The drum machine spits out crunching kick drum sounds, acid squiggles and siren noises, with Mike Denton’s driving basslines riding over the top. The closing song builds to an extended wall-of-noise section, imagine I Am The Resurrection but if Squire had been into noise rather than melody, which having pummelled us for several minutes, they pull back from and back into the song in an instant. The Lucid Dream are probably too hard-edged, too experimental for a mainstream audience but should surely gain more fans and more exposure if they keep doing gigs like this.

Wooden Shjips have made one of this year’s best albums and spend 90 minutes demonstrating how to make psychedelic krautrock for 2018, undeniably retro but fresh and human and involving. Drummer Omar uses a minimal kit, just a bass drum and snare with 3 cymbals, but on every song hits and holds a hypnotic groove that pushes and makes the front few rows move. Keyboard player Nash Whalen has the thousand yard stare of a man who dropped some acid an hour ago and is just beginning to feel the effects, adding layers of drone and texture and allowing main man Ripley Johnson to do his thing. Ripley’s thing is playing ripples of golden guitar over everything else, perfectly placed in the mix, shades of Hendrix here and shades of Michael Rother there. His vocals float in from stage right, half sung and half whispered. Opener Eclipse hooks us in straight away, like waking from a dream. Ride On is slow and shuffly, Staring At The Sun glowers with the spirit of 1969. Wooden Shjips are the epitome of slow burn, of going at their own pace, of the importance of tone as much as tunes. They grow in intensity and pace as the evening goes on, sucking us in, locked into the groove, dripping sun-dappled melodies into the room over the beautiful drones, finishing with a blistering, extended version of Death’s Not Your Friend.

 

Zenith

In a week’s time I’m going to Gorilla to see Wooden Shjips, creators of the most blissfully cool guitar album of 2018 so far, supported by Carlisle’s The Lucid Dream (who have made 2 of the year’s most impressive singles, SX1000 and Alone In Fear, acid house and techno influences to the fore). Their album Actualisation is out in October and ahead of it comes a third single- Zenith (part 2). This one puts them firmly back in the northern psyche-rock territory with a growly bassline and vocals smothered in echo, tense and urgent and electric. I’m hoping, almost expecting, that the pairing of Wooden Shjips and The Lucid Dream will be gig of the year.

The other Zenith first appeared in 2000 AD in summer 1987, a 19 year old British superhero in the Watchmen anti-superhero mode, and a story involving the Second World War, Maximan versus the Nazis, a 1960s team with a Jim Morrison lookalike (below), and Zenith himself, a cocky late 80s flying generation gap with a quiff.

Alone In Fear

The Lucid Dream are a psyche rock band from Carlisle. I can hear that Royal Navy advert when I type that- ‘I was born in Carlisle but I was made in an acid house psyche rock band’. Their last single SX1000 was a full on acid house experience, thumping beats and bass and brain rattling acid noise which split their fanbase in two. Their next single, out on the internet recently, is a nine minute excursion into hi-hats, kick drum and repetitive noise and Born Slippy vocals. The break down at around 4.25 and subsequent re-entry of everything in quick layers is genuinely thrilling. And so suddenly out of nowhere, with an album due in October and a run of gigs supporting Wooden Shjips, they become contenders…

Dreaming

Drew posted this song a couple of weeks ago over at Across The Kitchen Table. I loved it the first time I clicked play and have been playing almost daily ever since. I can’t hurt to re-post it here, in case anyone missed it over at Drew’s blog.

The Lucid Dream are from Carlisle and have been around for a decade releasing 3 albums, making a guitar led, psychedelic racket. The new song, SX1000, as a bit of a departure. It sounds like a 1990 acid house remix of an indie guitar band where the remixer has chucked most of the source material away and turned the acid all the way up.

How good is that? Right up my alley and the video is excellent too. It appears judging by the comments at Youtube and elsewhere that The Lucid Dream’s fanbase aren’t all happy about this change in direction. This is Bad Texan, released back in 2016, a full on guitar, northern rock song. Very good too.