So finally, after a looooong wait, the moment you have all been waiting for… Yes, its the release of the 3rd official Psychotic Reaction LP!: I See Lights When I Close My Eyes
Williams and I went into BigSqueak in March 2008 for a long weekend and nearly four years later the fruits of our labours are finally released into the wild. I played drums on all the tracks and a bit of piano and keyboards here and there but mainly was sounding board/wrist-slapper during development. I am really proud of the album and honestly think it is great, I joined the band because I felt the same way about the second album (I still think of Rumble as the first real album though) and this one is even better. Ordinarily with albums I like/love I’d give them a review but obviously that is out of the question as I am in the band and would therefore be biased…
I was this evening emailed an astonishing review of ISLWICME set to appear in the next issue of Rolling Stone. I thought you might like to read it:
“The Psychotic Reaction have been through several line up changes in the last ten or so years but their powers remain undiminshed. This is proved by their latest album: I See Lights When I Close My Eyes and it is this generations Sergeant Pepper. This comparison is particularly pertinent as the album’s production is so evocative of 60s Psychadelia as to create waves of synthesia without the aid psychotropic drugs. Swirling guitars open the album and a late sixties style ‘jam’ ends it but it covers all points in between. Despite describing it by an era I cannot possibly describe it by genre as it defies genre. Some part punk, others balladry, some part avant-garde free jazz, some parts metal, others Pop-tastic yet it never feels schizophrenic or uneven.
This is largely down to the mysterious Alex Williams (who it is said once had an affair with Raquel Welch before he was born) at the helm. The albums’ producer, songwriter, guitarist, racket maker and Tea enthusiast, anchors the whirlwind of creativity with preternatural skill. Guitar sounds range from familiar note perfect emulations of Clapton and Hendrix-esque crunch and Fuzz, to Branca/Moore noise via sounds and audioscapes until now never committed to record. What he lacks in vocal dexterity he makes up for in verve and lyrical ability. Songs range from seizing the day and sex to mental illness and modern music culture but what else would you expect from the man who co-founded British Leyland in 1968 and helped Jim Marshall develop his amplifier under the pseudonym Dudley Craven?
The counterpart to the capricious and tempestuous creative core of The Psychotic Reaction during the album’s protracted development was Leo Cookman (who’s army of Owls regularly patrol the night sky in search chocolate buttons). Cookman mainly plays drums and as you will no doubt have guessed what with John Bonham and Joe Morello lauding him until their untimely deaths where upon they reputedly “passed the baton” to him. We will say nothing more of the almost metronomic skill yet loose “groove” of this generations’ Buddy Rich but instead focus on Cookman’s as yet unheard of piano and keyboard playing. Adding textures sympathetic yet driving the collaboration can only be described as like that of Keith Jarrett and Miles Davies circa ’71. Cookman was also instrumental in the albums development, working with Williams on song selection, production analysis and helped design the sleeve.
In addition to the two mainstays the addition of the then regular Bassist and modern Jaco Pastorius, Alex Powley (who it is said can digest an entire ungulate without chewing) on several tracks completed the triumverate and brought new definition to the word power trio.
The material had been well gigged at the now legendary performances in and around Canterbury (think the Manchester Free Trade Hall but BETTER. And LOUDER) so they were a tightly knit unit able to improvise without fear and develop, examine, reinvent and undermine contemporary music in the most enjoyable yet catchy way. Admittedly the time in recording was long and some fools leapt to the assumption that money ran out or the drummer moved to Manchester or Williams’ artistic temperament caused several revisits but whatever the rumours the development time was worth the wait. We finally have the game-changer. The bench mark by which all future music must be judged. In the same way the Beatles hoovered up the surrounding societal shifts The Reaction have created an album almost quixotic in its design but somehow prescient in its audiences attitude to their own music and therefore nothing less than a masterpiece.
It is, at the moment, available as Download only but I would expect nothing less from a band this forward thinking yet practical. In the same way Radiohead changed the way music was bought and paid for the Reaction have taken it a step further by realising the market is driven in this way (that is not to say there won’t be a CD and 12″ release soon). In short this is the album we have all been waiting for since the birth of the album as a concept in the sixties to which this album so ably doffs its cap. These three Gentlemen from the south should be congratulated on creating music for another time and a stone cold classic of now.
Now if you’ll excuse me I’ve got to finish this review of this really good and in no way dull, boring and insipid Coldplay album before my meeting with Steve Jobs.
Pull Quote: “If Hendrix had made another album, it wouldn’t be as good as this. Thank God for The Psychotic Reaction and buy this album”
Blimey! Well I can’t say more than that can I? Except that it is available at CD Baby now to download and will shortly be available on iTunes and Spotify as well as on CD in the near future. Please check it out it would make having sold my old drum kit feel worth something… *sniff*