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Heavy Psych Toby Cook , July 29th, 2009 07:48

Having risen, glassy eyed, from the acrid smoke of Fu Manchu over a decade ago, Nebula have existed primarily in that hazy nether region that lurks neither under nor on the radar — just beyond the pale of widespread acceptance. One reason for this might be their consistent and straightforward (to the point where it almost seems that they’re not even trying) simplicity — even the name of this, their fifth LP, Heavy Psych, bestrides that grey area between simplistic, modest brilliance and utter cack. (I mean, come on, Heavy Psych? So, I guess, it’s going to be heavy, and psych-y, yeah?!).

But, that’s a good thing — you know exactly what to expect from Ronseal Quick Drying Woodstain, and Heavy Psych is like Quick Drying Woodstain that contains massive amounts of THC. The modus operandi here is simple: take the best parts of your influences, add lashings of fuzz and flange and get stoned. Really, really stoned.

Album opener ‘Pulse’ is the quick, necessary burn of waste paper at the very tip of the joint; in itself, wholly unremarkable, but nonetheless enthralling purely on the basis that it leads the way to much, much better things. Phased guitarscapes, and hollow, echoing vocals, swirling in misshapen musical clouds that breeze through ‘The Dagger’ and just as that first real hit of Morocco’s finest clamps onto your grey matter, ‘Aphrodite’ kicks in. Dirty, sleazy and sexual, Eddie Glass’ whiskey soaked and strained voice oozes between caterwauling guitars and incessant, bludgeoning kick drums — the part of the joint you savour the most; the reward and further promise combining in a moment of sheer perfection.

Unfortunately, moments like this are few and far between, and all too fleeting; the rather vapid and laboured Middle Eastern-tinged strains of ‘Dream Submarine’ signal the disappointing realization that proceedings must be passed to the left. ‘In The Depths’ panders unashamedly to Mudhoney, while ‘Crown Of Thorns’ lurks like a sedated MC5.

Mercifully though, all things come back around and the jammy, 70’s blues rock stylings of ‘Little Yellow Pill’, with its wah-wah lead guitar licks and unexpected banjo intro, enlivens the latter stages — that brief period just before an embarrassing giggling fit kicks in. This is soon quashed, however, by the crushing revelation that all good things must come to an end; regrettably, the pointless closing jam that is ‘Running Of The Bulls’ is merely the smoking of the roach, its synth bass and vocals seemingly recorded from answerphone messages.

But, momentary lulls aside, Heavy Psych does exactly what it says in the tin.

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