Written by: BV on 27/09/2013 20:43:55

Talented instrumentalists seem to be the primary agenda of El Paraiso Records these days. With their latest release, the band Psicomagia and their self-titled debut full-length, this reputation does not degrade a single bit. Following in the somewhat jazzy and overwhelmingly progressive footsteps of acts like Soft Machine, Psicomagia is a vehicle for exuberant instrumental excursions fueled with a dynamic rhythm section, a hugely talented keyboard-player/organist who sports a sound I’ve grown to become quite fond of, as well as a far-out saxophonist.

As the guitar-less soundscape kicks in with album opener “El Memorioso”, I feel like I’m being hurled back into a time much reminiscent of late 60’s prog-rock and psychedelic jazz. Tyler Daughn, the keyboard-player, manages to conjure up a veritable plethora of interesting and quite immersive tones that both fit the more traditional approach to keyboard-playing as well as some quite a bit trippier stuff. The lack of a guitarist is surprising to me, to say the least, as Brian Ellis (the saxophonist) has quite the reputation as a guitarist. Nonetheless, there is plenty of space for his saxophone to unfold to some furious lead-lines as well as a more melodic approach as the interplay between Ellis and Daughn seems perfectly structured with each player complimenting the other when needed.

With the two monstrous tracks “El Congreso pt. 1” and “El Congreso pt. 2” the semi-psychedelic progressiveness is rearing its head in one of the most obvious ways on the album. Whilst the bass predominantly keeps the groove going, the drums are highly free-floating and syncopated. That said, the drumming never really gets ‘out there’ per se, as they are still locked tight inside the groove provided by the bass whilst they retain their playfulness. Despite the dynamic interplay between the saxophone and the keyboards I can’t help but feel that a guitar wouldn’t exactly be out-of-place here. The record gets relatively heavy, at least for a record of this genre-spectrum, and in that sense the guitar would have been perfect to add to the aesthetic. Nonetheless, it is not a crushing lack as there are still plenty of fascinating lead-lines at stake here but, to me, it would just have been better with a guitar in the mix as well. - At least according to my old-fashioned tastes and beliefs.

Psicomagia’s debut album is most of all interesting. It is potentially hard to get into, but there is a certain reward offered when the first few listens are over and you really dig into the layers of the album. With that said, it is a challenging listen that could, first and foremost, benefit from a guitar – at least a subtle one to add a fuller mix. Secondly, the song lengths are ridiculously long in the two-part “El Congreso” which, in turn, could also be quite a turn-off on the first few listens.

Psicomagia are on to something here though, and their blend of jazzy 60’s prog-rock and psychedelic rock is one you don’t come across that often anymore. It’s a welcome return of the sound, but it does need a bit more work to be truly spectacular.

Download: El Memorioso, El Congreso pt. 1
For The Fans Of: Soft Machine, Radio Moscow, Elephant9
Listen: Facebook

Release date 23.09.2013
El Paraiso Records

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