Psychedelic Horseshit

Magic Flowers Droned

(Siltbreeze; 2007)

By Alan Baban | 13 January 2008

Okay, so, yeah, the band is called Psychedelic Horseshit, and that's going to be a major problem for more than a few people.

The amazing thing, though, is that the most provocative thing about Magic Flowers Droned isn't the quotidian stuff we've been taught to regard as hungry and deep: it isn't the gutter-turd mix or the incessant noise or the unflinching way the thing skips hook to hook, and song to song; it's not even the fact that the name of the band who made this record is, let's not forget, Psychedelic Horseshit. All of this stuff is, of course, true: the mix is rough, the noise is noisy, the hooks are sharp.

The most exciting thing, though, about Magic Flowers Droned -- the thing that makes it inexhaustible and endlessly fun to listen to -- is the raw power and intuitive bravura that the band brings to these songs. In other words, these performances, for all their sandbucket drums and feedback pirouettes, capture so effortlessly what other bands spend whole careers trying and failing to contain, stuff that seems so simple and clean, making its most pronounced effect on a deep, intuitive level that renders words inadequate and criticism absurd. But here's a try: a palpable and tongue-tied excitement, a blood on the tracks righteousness, a dumb and vicious lightning. The performances here are haphazard and shoddy: they leave absolutely no room for improvement. They can, to some extent, be considered Definitive.

Which isn't to say that this record is perfect -- it isn't. There's one track, even, that's complete horseshit ("Mash Up" wherein two songs are played simultaneously on separate channels). Still, if any record I've heard in 2007 collars so effortlessly the free and footloose feeling of the best rock and roll, then it is this one. Spoon can have their sonic exposition, and Radiohead their elaborate designs, but all thirty fucksure minutes of Magic Flowers Droned find a band perched at the tipping point, hungry, cut loose and at liberty, ready to kick ass and take names, whatever, who cares.

As a statement of purpose it's clear and clean-handed: material like "Rather Dull" and "New Wave Hippies" finding singer and guitarist Matt Whitehurst lobbing pointed and witty barbs at the ramparts of commerce and consumerism. The latter especially locates the giddy charm in the frontman as he dons his best Mark E. Smith, dragging and drawling the syllables until they extend into and intone the next beat, guitar lick or organ break. Like a conductor, sure, but less precise than that, and more fun. His band follows suit, burrowing through the chaotic and crazy right on into a rabbit hole of creativity and inspiration, cutting but calm, and always clued-up.

There's a bit near the close of "What's in Store" where a guitar peals straight into the mix off-rhythm and off-time, in finest bizarro fashion, completely deranged and completely in and of itself. "Portals" is the finest distillation of White Light / White Heat (1968) ethos this side of blown speaker standards: it hurtles and hops and rattles and resounds and drums and detonates and echoes and just plain excites, before letting rip with a guitar solo that does that whole "dumb and vicious lightning" thing that I'm still finding so difficult to describe.

And, ultimately, that's just what Magic Flowers Droned is: difficult to describe. It innervates and entertains and generally does not sit still in any way a critic can find illuminating or helpful. It comfortably bucks the grand gesture or the catch-all phrase: remaining remarkably translucent but, also, remarkably oblique. I like it a lot, but I have trouble explaining why, and I know as soon as I finish writing this I'm going to go back, give in and gratify the need to rediscover these songs and redesign my thoughts on their tones and tics, the easy and authoritative way they just seem to exist.

But, oh well: it's a great rock record in a year of great rock records. And it's fucking catchy, too.