Revisiting a Hypnotically Enveloping Psychedelic Gem From the Philistines

by delarue

The Philistines’ 2016 album The Backbone of Night – streaming at Bandcamp – could be the lost classic the Brian Jonestown Massacre never released, a rapturous lysergic labyrinth of jangle and clang and roar and ripple half-obscuring frontwoman Kimmie Queen’s vocals.. Full disclosure: the record has been sitting on the hard drive here since it came out, in hopes the Kansas City band would play New York. If they have, it slipped under the radar here.

There’s a mix of clang, icy wash and ripple from Cody Wyoming and Rod Peal’s  guitars, Michelle Bacon’s bass  and Josh Mobley’s Rhodes piano in the ominously catchy opening track, Steep: “I had nothing left to show to show, just another day alone,” Queen intones.

1971 is a forest of psychedelic guitars over a 1-4-5 chord patttern: Rhode Island legends Plan 9 come to mind. The epically hypnotic Radiation Drive has a deftly shifting spacerock drift, part Brian Jonestown Massacre, part the Church, the mix rippling with multitracked rings and pings up to a sarcastic chorus. Is this a Fukushima reference?

A Twitch of the Death Nerve slashes into stoner riff-rock territory: with its layers and layers of keys and guitars, Plan 9 again come to mid. The band swirl around a tersesly clanging Rickenbacker guitar riff in the Beatlesque Accretion Disco, up to a spiky, Middle Eastern guitar solo midway through. It’s the album’s most delirious delicious track.

With its luridly multrtracked web of acoustic and electric guitars, the pouncing Arecibo is a dead ringer for brilliant/obscure New York art-rock legends Of Earth, A Heart Like Candy is an imaginative transformation of early 60s doo-wop pop into reverberating art-rock: it’s easy to imagine Blondie wanting to be this epic.

Stygia, awash in quasar guitar pulses and Steve Gardels’ tumbling drums, follows a delirious intertwine up to a sudden coda. The band wind up the album with Get Inside, an enveloping, Bowie-esque anthem built out of a simple two-chord vamp. If you buy the concept that psychedelics are as Halloween as Halloween gets, you can consider this today’s Halloween month installment.