Strap on your skates and dust off your love beads, Psych-Rock is back.
Psychedelic-folk rock is not the easiest genre to let roll off of the tongue. Indeed, since its inception way back in the hazy sixties, there have been few markets of popular music as niche and subtle as this. As The Beatles provided a Technicolor master class to start with and Pink Floyd dabbled in the mysteries of the universe seven years later, the folk infused guitar riffs of rock and roll became altogether more relaxed and laid back.
It is from Belgium then that, some four and a half decades later that the latest pretenders to the psych-folk throne come sweeping along in typically haunting and morose manner. Birds That Change Colour (BTCC), a clichéd yet strangely evocative name, are the latest Belgian act bringing their own brand of 60s throwback to the British shores this March. With their debut On Recording the Sun the band set up their tie-dyed shop for the rest of Europe with a surprisingly strong, enjoyable ten track album that packs a lot of bang for the buck.
In keeping with the tradition of the greats who have gone before them, BTCC kick off their work with the hauntingly simple “Stones.” An eerie and simple ode to the nuances of subtle guitar and string work, vocalist, Koen Kohlbacher, creates a lofty ambience that evokes images of a misty early morning wood or lofty sky.
This mixture of high art and emotional imagery continue throughout the album as a whole, none more apparent than in “Playground,” “Oh So Tired” and the 11 plus minute epic “Never Ending First of May,” a track that steals the show from the other ample works. Contrary to this eclectic, borderline gloomy approach to what is generally regarded as bucolic infused neuroticism designed purely to toy with one’s own perception of the universe, there are a number of playfully cheerful songs thrown in for good measure.
“Tales from the Moon,” has all the hall marks of a late Beatles piece of fun, the psychedelic images of distorted cartoons and brightly coloured suits forming almost instantly in the minds of the listeners’, all to the tune of tame drums and the merest hint of sitar. The final track “Oh What a Day” rounds off the album with a Bowie meets Ringo infusion of juvenile story telling that serves perfectly to compliment the rest of the tracks. The guest vocals from Nathalie Delcroix and the pepped up pipes serve as timely reminders that this is a work of art, mainland European art no less and close the work amply, smiles all around.
In all, BTCC have delivered an album that is on the whole enjoyable and fun, two emotions that are very rarely placed together when interpreting modern music. It could be a combination of the wonderfully crafted images, the honorable tributes and throwbacks to the past masters of the genre and the lovingly produced nature of the work that makes On Recording The Sun work. Regardless, only time will tell if it makes an impact abroad.
The band’s official website http://birdsthatchangecolour.com/ has tour dates and album availability. Their UK distributors, Jezus Factory Records, http://www.jezusfactory.com, has more details on the March 5th launch.