Everyone has their own solution to fight against impoverishment, war, climate change, inflation, and the resulting generalized depression. Therapists recommend meditation, unions manifesting, psychedelic rockers… psychedelic rock.
“In the sixties, psych rock was born as a reaction to the societal problems of the timeexplains with passion Christian Bland. We had the Vietnam War, the defense of civil rights, the increase in inequalities… Psychedelia was a flashback, a creative revolution against a failing society. We find the same fundamentals today. People need freedom more than ever.” The Texan musician knows what he is talking about, the wall erected by Donald Trump to “protect” the United States from Mexico stands a few hundred kilometers from his home in Austin.
Housed north of San Antonio, the city has long embodied rock and roll, counterculture, a progressive island in a conservative state. It’s hardly surprising, therefore, to see the psychedelic movement flourish there in the sixties with mythical bands like 13th Floor Elevators, then, forty years later, The Black Angels. From 2006, Christian Bland (guitar, keyboards), Alex Maas (vocals, guitar), Stephanie Bailey (drums) and two other accomplices took over from their illustrious predecessors by publishing the brilliant Passoverthen Directions to See a Ghosttwo years later.
The year 2008 is even exceptional. In addition to the Black Angels, we find the Canadians of Black Mountain with the masterpiece In the Futureand the My Bloody Underground of the Brian Jonestown Massacre. Guitars are ubiquitous, fuzz pedals sold out. Little geniuses like the Californian Ty Segall made their appearance, then the movement gradually returned to its niche. “The Dark Years“, as Christian Bland baptizes them at the end of the line. “Things petered out a bit, even though we kept going. But, since 2013 or 2015, we have witnessed an incredible resurgence of the genre.”
As they release their sixth album – Wilderness of Mirrors (released on September 16 by Pias) -, the Black Angels indeed find a ground that could not be more fertile. Very inspired by oriental psychedelia, the Australians of King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard release album after album and multiply their world tours. The Turks of Altin Gün, which take up old standards of the Turkish psychedelic scene, are enjoying incredible success. And these are just two of the most prominent examples of the moment.
“The 1960s scene was so rich and had its origins in so many different sources that the influences are endless.“, analyzes Christian Bland, when asked if this new generation influences the initially very fuzzy and square sound of the Black Angels.
“We come from very different worldshe replies. Since I was nine years old and the discovery of Sgt. Pepper by the Beatles, this album influences everything I do. This remains a determining element in my writing, the spirit that I want to give to my music..”
Sometimes shy, even lukewarm, on their last deliveries, the Austin quintet raises their tone from the outset and attacks in power with the brilliant “Without a Trace”, “History of the Future” and “Empires Falling”, before to slow down to better broaden the subject.
“We used three mellotrons (polyphonic synthesizer, editor’s note) to create a whole series of weird soundslaughs Christian Bland. But, when it comes to guitars, we keep our basics, I play again and again with my old Rickenbaker 345. I was born and I will be buried with this guitar.. “Before dying, is the future assured? Not sure, The Black Angels embody Austin and vice versa.
But, like San Francisco, the Texas city is invaded by the wealthy employees of technology companies. “This is madnessinsists the guitarist. So many people are coming from New York or Silicon Valley that everything has become overpriced, artists are fleeing. I don’t know where I will be in five years or if there will still be stages to host rock and roll.”
In concert at the Trix (Antwerp) on February 17th. www.trixonline.be
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The psychedelic rock angels are back
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