Psychedelic prog album reviews round-up

Take a trip with Rob Hughes as he seeks out the latest mind-expanding music with new releases from The Bevis Frond, Nick Nicely, Diaphanoid, L.A. Witch, and Antibalas

The Bevis Frond - Son Of Walter album artwork

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These isles have few betters when it comes to pumping out musical eccentrics. And those eccentrics don’t get much finer than Nick Saloman, more commonly known by the name The Bevis Frond. After a trio of reissues in August – The Auntie Winnie Album, Bevis Through The _Looking Glass _and _Triptych _– he’s now given Son Of Walter (Fire Records) a decent spruce-up. First released in 1996, the album marked a return to his earliest MO, dispensing with the band altogether and allowing Saloman to indulge his vision and create a one-man opus from his Walthamstow bedroom. A true thing of wonder it is too, Saloman’s guileless voice and wiggy guitar out front, backed by multitracked harmonies and everything from organ to theremin. _Barking Or False Point Blues _is heavy psychedelia, offset by aching meditations like _Forgiven _and Requiem. Best of all is the epic 12-minute drone Garden Aeroplane Trap.

The similarly offbeat **Nick Nicely returns with _Sleep Safari _(Tapete), which is billed as “a homage to unconsciousness, lyrically exploring sleep’s mysteries through a surrealist eye”. True to that description, the album immerses the veteran songwriter in a trippy netherworld dominated by electronica. It’s an infinitely rich, dense affair, with Nicely playing with experimental sounds and phased effects, without ever losing sight of his natural gift for melody. _Gliding _is skanky dub with a prog twist, _Dance Away _sways into focus through mounds of synthetic fuzz **and _Rainmaker _is all strobing ambience.

Solar Wind, meanwhile, sounds like 4AD’s** idea of an acid rave. Equally likely to bend your head is _Blessed Poisons _(People In The Sky), the third outing from Italian duo Andrea Bellentani and **Simon Maccari. Trading as The Diaphanoids, they bring** hard-edged industrial noise to the psychedelic realm, creating ambient pieces that throb with an aggressive pulse. Voices float in the ether, sustained rhythms underpin great swirls of noise (particularly on the impressive Too Many Stars And Not Enough Night) and there’s even a dash of Wire to be found in the propulsive swirl of **My Friends Can Fly.

On a more conventional trip are L.A. Witch, whose self-titled debut album on the Suicide Squeeze label marries throbby reverb guitars to garage riffs and drowsy vocals. The whole thing feels like a vivid fever dream, from the louche psych of _Brian _to the muggy Baby In Blue Jeans. Led by vocalist Sade Sanchez, the all-girl trio tap into the seedy traditions of Californian noir while also recalling such 80s miscreants as The Dream Syndicate and Green On Red.

For those who like their psychedelia to be just a little brighter, **Antibalas **are an ideal pick-me-up. Theirfirst release in five years, Where The Gods Are _In Peace _(Daptone) finds Brooklyn’s favourite Afrobeat combo in majestic form. Singer Duke Amayo leads the charge as they rush through a euphoric mix of highlife, cosmic funk and free-roaming jazz, complete with the fattest trumpets this side of Donald Byrd.

Rob Hughes

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2008, and sister title Prog since its inception in 2009. Regular contributor to Uncut magazine for over 20 years. Other clients include Word magazine, Record Collector, The Guardian, Sunday Times, The Telegraph and When Saturday Comes. Alongside Marc Riley, co-presenter of long-running A-Z Of David Bowie podcast. Also appears twice a week on Riley’s BBC6 radio show, rifling through old copies of the NME and Melody Maker in the Parallel Universe slot. Designed Aston Villa’s kit during a previous life as a sportswear designer. Geezer Butler told him he loved the all-black away strip.