The Velvet Night [Mighty Fuzz]
Here ’tis! The first full length album from the Kettering space/psych/noise rock quartet follows a couple of 12” EPs in 2016 and 2017. Those excellent releases has meant no little anticipation has been building amongst the psych/alt community for The Velvet Night.
The band have developed their sound to arrive here; this album came out of a lengthy jam session when an extra track was required. Once the hour-long jam had been poured back over it was abundantly clear to the four that, recorded and edited properly, there was actually an elpee of coherent material right there. So far, so Hawkwind. But what makes this album so fascinating from beginning to end is they have tightened the sonics and the songwriting into something bigger than they had previously achieved. Any prevailing ghost of Spacemen 3 or Neu! or Sabbath has been wholly exorcised; all that comes through is their own unique signal. And it’s one that should put them nearer the front of the current psych revival too.
Pulling the album apart is a very hard job. It is very difficult to separate any part from it’s whole. The band know this, and they have tried to avoid any disjunction by simply creating three acts: ‘Alpha’, ‘Epsilon’, and ‘Delta’. Within those movements you get ‘parts’. ‘Alpha Part 1’, for example, is a heavy krautrock epic, pushing the limits of what the brain can take. Dean’s ethereal vocals ride the wave of the Loop/Suicide style repetitive synth swells. Pummelled by the metronomic drums and bassline from Vincent and Tim, Tom sends stabbing notes of guitar fuzz through the mix. It’s conclusion makes way for a breather, as the calmer, floating ‘Part 2’ bring respite from the onslaught that was ‘Part 1’. The tempo is ramped up for ‘Part 3’, and a Floydian synth line takes charge. ‘Part 4’ is a timestamp, a precursor to the onslaught of ‘Part 5’, which returns to the themes of ‘Part 1’, but this time with even more emotion from everyone involved.
‘Epsilon’ is eleven minutes that sounds a tad more contemporary. The Wooden Shjips/Hookworms pulse of ‘Part 1’ is spirit-level steady, and allows Dean room for some vocal manoeuvres. You don’t ever really catch what he’s singing about, you just feel it in the gut. In ‘Part 2’ the proggy guitar lines send the listener leftfield, whilst ‘Part 3’ pulls things back, and we’re into Sonic Youth or ’90s stoner territory. It’s another peak in a song cycle full to the brim with ideas that gel better than you’d imagine from any description a writer could provide.
‘Delta’ feels like a reset button has been pressed, and a bit of intentionally aimless flow opens up. ‘Part 1’ gives you Wah Wah Land, and a vocal seemingly in freefall. Is this where the trip turns bad? ‘Part 2’ suggests not, as we realign our chakras and forge onwards with new energy and renewed belief. The sonic breakdown here is akin to a vortex of sound, a whirlpool to let oneself be lost in. The instrumental ‘Part 3’ brings us firmly out on the other side, the guitar fuzz blurring our vision somewhat as we stand on our musical shore basking in solarized warmth. The final movement, ‘Part 4’, is a brief howl of joy that we have survived the entire thing.
It’s certainly not an album you can get on one listen, but The Velvet Night is surely an early contender for album of the year. There’s no come down allowed here. Just a widescreen, ecstatic, symphonic journey backwards into tomorrow that you won’t forget in a hurry.
The Velvet Night is out now on vinyl and download