Julie’s Haircut

In The Silence Electric

The ninth album by Italian psych rockers Julie's Haircut deserves to be played loud, finds Sean Kitching

First of all, it would be difficult, nay impossible, not to begin with this band’s name. What’s in a name, you may ask? In the case of Julie’s Haircut, the next logical question for most music fans would most likely be: what on earth where they thinking? Closely followed by: and why do they persist in using it? The answer, it seems, is lost in time. For Julie’s Haircut, originally formed in Sassuolo, in northern Italy, have been active for the past two decades, and are, I am reliably informed, relatively well known in their country of origin. In The Silence Electric, is their ninth album overall, and their second for the excellent Rocket Recordings imprint. Whilst it could certainly be argued that when the content is as good as this, the words on the label matter less, it’s still hard to imagine Mercury Rev ever making it had they been called ‘Grasshopper’s Bangs’, or Spacemen 3 ever ‘Walkin’ With Jesus’ had they been called ‘Jason’s Fringe’. Thankfully though, the music contained within is very good indeed, recalling in parts both of those bands – and in the case of Mercury Rev, hearkening back to their messy, sonically overloaded early period, especially their psychedelically epic second release, Boces.

This kind of indie psych-rock territory is a particularly well mined area, but here Julie’s Haircut mostly manage to negotiate the fine line between being a band of that genre and being themselves, without straying into the shallow waters of similitude that many bands of their ilk end up inhabiting. That The Silence Electric accomplishes this mainly in terms of form rather than content, shouldn’t represent cause for alarm, as sonically speaking, this is pretty thrilling stuff.

Opener, ‘Anticipation Of The Night’ sets early Suicide-style pulsations alongside whispered vocals, squalls of gnarly feedback and delicately cascading keyboard trills. ‘Until The Lights Go Out’ is a beguilingly hypnotic cross-pollination between Can and early Jesus And Mary Chain, with shredding feedback that flirts with crossing the pleasure/pain threshold when played back at an appropriately loud volume. ‘Sorcerer’ is the band at their most motorik, an implied infinite highway colliding with clangorous guitars at the culmination of its journey. ‘Pharaoh’s Dream’ evokes a more subtle mood in its opening phase, with skeletal, krautrock-style drumming eventually merging with sax and synth lines blurring out into a somnambulistic stumble at its climax.

Occasionally the band stray into more generic zones, as on ‘Emerald Kiss’ or the heavily Spiritualised-influenced, ‘Lord Help Me Find The Way’, but for the most part this is a solid record which is at its most rewarding when blasted loudly through big speakers. I’ve yet to see the band live, but with a six-piece lineup, including three guitarists, electronics, keys and sax, the potential to translate these songs into a heady psychedelic racket is particularly enticing.

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