Psychedelic Prog review column

Take a trip with Rob Hughes as he seeks out the latest mind-expanding music from Goldray, Ida Wenoe, Ecstastic Vision, Forming The Void, Sundowners and Flamingods

Goldray Rising album artwork

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It’s been three years since the release of Goldray’s self-titled mini-album, but they’ve finally pulled out the stopper on their full-length debut. Led by ex-Reef guitarist Kenwyn House, the trio more than fulfil their promise on Rising (Akashic Records), which offers a perfumed snort of late-60s psych and astral prog. It’s a sensory overload of smart riffs and Leah Rasmussen’s cool, dream-weaving vocals, with keyboards, violins and the odd hurdy gurdy adding to the aroma. Outloud, one of three tracks salvaged from their previous release, is a glistening beauty, as is the racing Soulchild. Diamond Road and Calling Your Name, meanwhile, are very much in keeping with the ruminative spirituality of the album’s overarching theme.

On a different tack is Danish songstress Ida Wenøe, whose Time Of Ghosts (Songcrafter/Shellshock) is a gorgeous assimilation of hibernal prog folk. The cooing cadence of her voice will satiate fans of Björk or Joanna Newsom, particularly on How Cold The Winter and the hymnal Limbo Man, which arrives on the back of a buzzing psychedelic drone. Listen out, too, for Death Wish (Of Nicholas Urfe), an allusion to the central character of John Fowles’ reality-bending novel, The Magus. Elsewhere, the title of Ecstatic Vision’s latest effort for Relapse – Raw Rock Fury – pretty much sums up the nature of their self-styled “primordial troglodyde rock”. The Philadelphia quartet evoke classic Hawkwind, Spacemen 3 and Leaf Hound on this second long-player, which hits a frenetic groove on opener You Got It Or You Don’t and refuses to give up. Cue an exhilarating rush of punishing psych, where spiralling guitars and the occasional parping sax ride classic motorik rhythms. By contrast, Louisiana four-piece Forming The Void offer crunching stoner riffs on third album Relic (Argonauta). Lead singer James Marshall directs the full-on bonequake, ably assisted by fellow guitarist Shadi Omar Al-Khansa, while the trippy lyrics speak of mythical winged beasts, secret epiphanies and, on the oppressive Unto The Smoke, veils of illusion. They finish with a colossal version of Led Zep’s Kashmir.

Closer to home, Liverpool’s Sundowners follow up their 2015 debut with Cut The Master (Skeleton Key). The Coral’s James Skelly serves as co-producer, with brother Alfie on lead guitar and sister Fiona sharing vocals with Niamh Rowe (Andy Votel, incidentally, also helms a couple of tunes). The quintet’s charm lies in their ability to conjure a lost realm of acid folk from the progressive era, then coat it with modish, blushing guitars and terrific harmonies. The Watchful Eye is particularly vivid, alongside the melodic strangeness of Ritual. And for compact thrills, it’s hard to beat Kewali (Moshi Moshi), a psychotropic ethno funk EP from Bahrain/London collective Flamingods. Anything goes in their world, from riotous Goat-ish jam Mixed Blessings
to the euphoric title track.

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.