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Various Artists (Tributes) - Side Effects CD (album) cover

SIDE EFFECTS

Various Artists (Tributes)

 

Various Genres

3.95 | 2 ratings

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Windhawk
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars UK label FRUITS DE MER RECORDS have been around for a good handful of years now, making their name as a niche enterprise releasing newly recorded versions of classic psychedelic material on limited edition vinyl singles, and subsequently developing to release full length albums with the same content as well as a growing interest in the release of new material by contemporary bands. "Side Effects" is among their more unusual projects, were band were asked to record side long cover versions of psychedelic tracks. Or rather, mainly psychedelic tracks, although if the contributions that stretched the boundaries was at the bequest of the label or the artists is for me unknown.

The Soft Bombs opens this mammoth 4 LP box set with their take on Pink Floyd's Echoes, presumably the shortened version of the song given an extended rework rather than the long version of the song that have been shortened I'd estimate. Still, whether this is one or the other it's a brilliant excursion into landscapes remarkably similar to what Pink Floyd did back in the early 70's, warm, organic and cosmic with ethereal distanced lead vocals and a liberal amount of vintage fuzz and fuzzy guitar details with and without supplemental organ emphasizing that vintage spirit. An excellent creation and a brilliant opening track.

Arcade Messiah's take on Aphrodite's Child's Four Horsemen continues in a rather different but still as mesmerizing and breathtaking manner, alternating between delicate and at times post-rock oriented fragile landscapes and a harder edged, guitar and keyboards driven manner, ebbing and flowing in pace and intensity in a hypnotic manner, with clever use of floating keyboard details to add a cosmic tinge to the proceedings.

The Bevis Frond opted to cover the fairly obscure German band Electric Sandwich and their track China, and comes across as a quality, elegant affair with a late 60's or early 70's sound to it, with a driving bassline and a liberal amount of vintage psychedelic guitar soloing as the dominant presence on top. In terms of style this one reminded me quite a lot of the first couple of UFO albums, while Phil Mogg and his merry men were still a reasonably unknown psychedelic rock band.

Next up is Wreaths, who have chosen to take on Gordon Lightfoot's Sundown. This one opens up as a dark toned, subtly garage rock tinged psychedelic rock affair, before heading in to a warmer and less edgy psychedelic instrumental landscape that ebbs and flow in intensity for the concluding ten minutes or thereabouts, a dreamladen and warm late 60's of early 70's sounding affair that should please most people with a taste for psychedelic rock from that era.

Superfjord have chosen The Byrds for their contribution, and the track CTA-102. Apart form recurring interludes of more or less freak-oriented electronic interludes, this is a highly intriguing take on this song, although those with a strong affection for The Byrds might possibly object to this song converted into a creation that sounds like a meeting of minds between Hawkwind and a late 60's psychedelic rock band, with the approach and execution reminding of the former and the sounds and instrumentation reminding of of the latter. Half a cup of Hawkwind, arguably half a cup of The Byrds, with a side dish of The Beatles in experimental mode - as on Tomorrow Never Knows.

US band The Luck of Eden Hall have been rather ambitious I think, when opting to go for Yes' classic Starship Trooper. While not a song I have played all that often, my impression is that the song in this guise have been given quite the makeover, in this guise coming across as more of a garage rock gone power pop angular rendition of the song, with a booming bass, staccato start and stop sections and something of an angular spirit to it. Not quite my cup of tea, and although the warmer, floating textures that dominates the latter parts of the song were highly intriguing for me this wasn't enough to elevate the total experience for me. A bit of a miss and hit affair if you like, but credit to the band for not opting to go for a straight replication. If you've played this song to the point of the original sounding tired and bothersome, a cover version such as this one will most likely be a rejuvenating experience.

Julie's Haircut is the first of the contributors that have chosen to shy away from the psychedelic aspects of this project. Their extended take on Miles Davis' Shhh/Peaceful is an ebb and flow affair that maintains a foundation and a solid foothold inside of jazz, or jazzrock at least, but with subtle instrument details here and there that adds a psychedelic touch to the proceedings. First and foremost a jazz or possibly jazzrock affair however, but a well made one at that I should add.

Then there's Sendelica. The last contribution, and one solidly placed to the left side of anything expected. I don't know if anyone would ever have expected to the see the name Donna Summer mentioned in a psychedelic rock context, but if it hasn't happened before it most certainly has happened now, and the track in Question is I Feel Love. In this rendition a 20 minutes or so long construction, bookended by searching, atmospheric sequences of more or less gentle sounds and effects, with an elongated midsection that sports saxophone and guitar alternating on the solo runs on top of a bass booming and steady rhythms affair, liberally flavored with various kinds oif cosmic effects, that in sum sounds like something not too many light years away from a band like, say, Tangerine Dream.

All in all the 4 LPs of this box set continues Fruits De Mer's tradition of releasing high quality material for those with an interest in psychedelic rock. 150 minutes of cover material in this case, and in this case songs covered in a manner rarely if ever heard before. As usual this production was just about sold out prior to it's official release, but if you're lucky you may find some copies here and there from re-sellers or, although I doubt it, the second hand market. It's worth trying to get though, if you enjoy vintage psychedelic rock in general and especially if songs of that kind that are in the 15 to 20 minute range is of a particular interest.

Windhawk | 4/5 |

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