It’s About Time You Heard The Luck Of Eden HallApr 19th, 2016 | By Jim Laugelli | Category: Reviews, What's Moving Me
As a genre of rock, psychedelic music has provided a treasure trove of resources since its beginnings in the 1960s. The word is derived from the hallucinogenic drugs, advocated by a number of writers in the 1950s and ’60s, most notably Timothy Leary, for their ability to expand one’s mind and raise one’s consciousness. The proliferation of these mind-altering drugs, especially LSD, within the youth culture of the ’60s and most especially in the world of rock music, led to a style of music that attempted to recreate, or at least enhance, the experience of the drug.
It has been a genre embraced by numerous musicians of significantly diverging stripes over the years. Oftentimes the word is simply attached to an already existing category to create a more specific subgenre; hence, we get psychedelic folk, psychedelic pop, psychedelic soul, etc. At the heart of all psychedelic music though, is a desire to transport the listener, take them to a new plane, and to enhance the listening experience. For some, psychedelic music is extended jams, feedback, modal shifts and delays, or perhaps, backward tape effects, synthesizers, harpsichords and Indian instruments like the sitar and tabla. For others the focus may be more with the whimsical and pastoral and the conjuring of images of velvet and paisley. In effect, psychedelic music can be as musically broad as is its aim to expand one’s mind. In other words, it comes in colors.
Over the years psychedelic music has fallen in and out of favor in terms of popularity, but there seems to never have been a shortage of musicians embracing the style and adding new a twist on it. It was a major link to progressive rock and you can hear elements of it in other styles throughout the ’70s. It is there in the glam rock of Bowie and T-Rex, it’s all over the post punk sound of Echo & The Bunnymen, The Teardrop Explodes, Robyn Hitchcock and so many more. In the United States in the early 1980s the influence was even defined as neo-psychedelic with the Los Angeles movement dubbed the Paisley Underground featuring bands like The Rain Parade, The Bangles and Dream Syndicate. Throughout the ’90s and through today a slew of indie bands continue exploring the genre. The Flaming Lips, Spacemen 3, Neutral Milk Hotel, Of Montreal, Super Furry Animals, the list goes on and on, and all of them add a slightly new ingredient to the mix.
One band that has been mining this genre for many years with little acknowledgement is a band out of Chicago called The Luck Of Eden Hall. Initially formed in the early ’90s then put on hiatus for a number of years before reconvening in the early part of the new century, The Luck Of Eden Hall have been consistently putting out one remarkable record after another and while fame and notoriety seemed to elude them at each turn, it may be that with their new record, The Acceleration Of Time, greater recognition is at hand.
The Luck Of Eden Hall is led by multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Greg Curvey with a steady input of equally strong songwriting from bassist Mark Lofgren. Think Colin Moulding’s input to Andy Partirdige’s in XTC. The Acceleration Of Time is an ambitious work covering four LP sides and more than 75 minutes of glorious technicolor dreamscapes. The album kicks off with the magnificent “Slow,” a fabulous dizzying swirl of strong riffs and soaring guitars blended with some fantastic classic sounding mellotron. The crunch and ringing guitars continue on “Blown To Kingdom Come,” leading into the fantastically titled Wonderland-like next track “A Procession of Marshmallow Soldiers Across The Clockwork Pudding.” As on the previous track, Curvey plays all the instruments here, demonstrating not only a great prowess on a number of instruments but an incredibly adept hand at recording an instrumental track that is filled with cinematic scope and range. The title track that follows is by Lofgren and is a downright beautifully melodic slice of grand psychedelic pop recalling something from Mercury Rev. All of this and we’re only at the end of side A.
Over the next three sides the band takes us on a journey through time and color. In fact, time is a pervasive theme throughout the album. Of the 15 songs on the album, at least 8 tracks contain references to time. There is the constant movement of time heading forward, going backward, speeding up or slowing down; its ceaselessly shifting mode keeping things unsteady, uncertain and unsettled. The distorted and hazy “Twelve” tells a tale of a life in 12 hours. In “A Man Of Conservative Style,” a woman “found a one-way trip back through time,” while on “The Family Timekeeper,” a special mantelpiece clock holds a certain fate.
Lyrically the band fits perfectly within the psychedelic milieu. For instance, on the song “Arthropoda Lepidoptera,” another gorgeously melodic and haunting tune, the song opens with the line “She is the one with the peach blossom tangled surprise,” which sounds like the sort of words that could’ve been written by Syd Barrett. And like many great psychedelic offerings, there are plenty of wonderfully catchy hook-laden tunes that stay with you long after the songs ends. One such song is “The Happiness Vending Machine.” With its fuzzed-out bass riffing along and the cynical lyrical claims of all the things money can bring you, this tune could’ve easily been a charting success in another era.
In many ways the music on the entire album is a magical distillation of the varied psychedelic sounds through the ages. It’s all synthesized beautifully together creating a special mix of sound and color. The Luck Of Eden Hall not only deserve your attention, they have earned it. The Acceleration Of Time is a tremendous accomplishment whose brilliance shines at every turn. It’s about time you heard The Luck Of Eden Hall.
Artist name: The Luck Of Eden Hall
Title: The Acceleration Of Time
Year of release: 2016
Year of first hearing by writer: 2016
Format listened to: CD