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LIVE REPORT: The Trip All-Dayer
Harry Sword , December 4th, 2013 11:02

Harry Sword heads to the capital's recent psych extravaganza to catch The Oscillation, Eat Lights Become Lights, Purson and more. Photographs courtesy of Keira Cullinane


I’m standing in the backroom of The Shacklewell Arms at 5.30 in the afternoon, and a man with waist length dreads is crouching down by the t-shirt stand, looking up at me like a bedraggled goblin.

“Eh?” I say.

“Skingraft! Skingraft!” he eagerly repeats, blinking up at me and nodding furiously.

“What?” I say.

“‘S’okay mate… I’m away. I’m away.

“Ah,” I say, taking a sip of beer. The Trip. Well, it was always going to have the odd casualty. For five days, London promoters Bad Vibrations (alongside Lanzarote Events and the Quietus) have hosted the likes of Gnod, Dead Skeletons and The KVB across venues around the city. Today is an all-dayer, however, taking place at The Shacklewell Arms – a fantastically battered boozer in Dalston with a great backroom and garden - and The Oscillation, Purson, Theo Verney and Eat Lights Become Lights are all on hand to offer the assembled troops some audio salvation.

The casualties are few and far between mind – the only other I note is a chap wearing a benign smile until he looks down at a handbag on the floor and runs across the room, a look of abject terror on his face, just as Theo Verney takes the stage. A skuzzy three piece (but the solo project of Verney himself) they launch into a rapid succession of two-minute stompers, closely aligned in spirit to the scratchy off kilter goodness of early 60s garage dive bombers like The Sonics or The Monks.

However, while the songs are utterly devoid of fat they also – thrillingly – often seem to include unexpected 30-second freak-out passages, calling to mind a drunken J Mascis plugging into Jus Oborn’s crackling stack and making all the right noises; an impressive amp-blown attack that enthusiastically manages to spill the bong water all over the threadbare carpet as the first light of day hits the curtains.

By proxy, Eat Lights Become Lights offer a sprawling hypnotic sound, whirling guitar lines processed via myriad effects alongside pounding motorik beats. The effect is at once disorientating and – more importantly - transcendentally uplifting, moving even. The swirling circular drive of tracks like ‘Heavy Electrics’ and ‘White Horse’ move up toward rising epiphany and the latter track - in particular - sounds incredibly powerful today. Eat Lights Become Lights hit that sweet spot where the epic reigns, without tipping into the overblown or pompous; a concise melodic flourish that permeates even the wildest jam, the rock solid rhythm section ensuring that the loftier moments are anchored with deft and meaty solidity.

Purson, meanwhile, are not only the most wilfully retro band on the bill today, an achievement in itself given the line up (their sinister melodic chops speak strongly of late period Beatles and early Alice Cooper) - they are also by far the slickest. But while singer Rosalie Cunningham’s impressively nuanced voice is full of dark emotion, there is also something of a manicured prog element to Purson that smacks of a well drilled session crew, each carefully crafted lick falling into (note) perfect place.

Nothing wrong with that per se - the exact same criticism could be levelled at Ghost, say - but, personally, I do prefer the 70s-leaning stuff (and there is a brace of it about at the moment) to be teetering on that thrilling edge of disintegration; in domestic terms some dusty Ladbroke Groove squat where Dave Brook tries for the third time of a foggy morning to get it together to make a brew, as opposed to the plush lava lamp-lit Notting Hill bolthole that housed Jagger and Fox in ‘Performance’. That said, Purson obviously have a true love for this music and play it well. They couldn’t write something as nuanced and, well, proper-sounding as ‘Leaning On A Bear’ – an exotic tumble of descending riffs and intense Moog that sounds like the soundtrack to a debauched after show on Led Zeppelin’s Starship - if they didn’t have it in the veins.

By contrast, The Oscillation are something of a groove machine tonight. They lay down swarthy rhythmic groovathons that draw on funk, drone, disco and kosmische all at once. Tonight they get the, by now packed, room dancing in unison to serious vamped out jams that rely on a combination of heavily processed guitar, squalling synths and cavernous beats; a swirling back room session that leaves the crowd a sweaty mess.

Indeed today’s session is a surprisingly uplifting experience, the programming offering a broad and inclusive interpretation of psychedelic music - one that, by the reckoning of today at least, seems largely intent on championing immediacy and directness above introspective noodling - brash garage rock alongside serious retro stylings and DIY electronics, music that does as much for your flailing body as your expanding synapses.

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