The Diaphanoids - LSME - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

The Diaphanoids - LSME

by Rich Morris Rating:6 Release Date:2014-04-01

Psych-rock and ambient house are such natural bedfellows, you wonder why they don’t get combined more often. How come the wide-eyed wonder and utopianism of cosmic rock is so often blunted by the brute nihilism of metal? And why must it be that the trippy, full-body ecstasy of ambient house is routinely nullified by that most odious of non-genres, ‘chill-out’.

Italian duo Andrea Bellentani and Simon Maccari have done the smart thing and combined outer-limits jamming and undulating, funky grooves with varying results. Things start well: ‘55th Dimension Nervous Breakdown’ fully lives up to that freak-out title, beginning like the decaying remnants of an epic Amon Duul II session before a huge Chemical Brothers-style beat kicks in while wailing guitars and phased effects swirl around each other.

Third track, the brilliantly named ‘How Can I Distinguish Sky From Earth If They Keep on Changing Their Place’, has a classic house beat worthy of U.F.Orb, its squeaking, spluttering synths achieving lift off halfway through and exploding into an elemental guitar wig-out in a wind tunnel. As one would expect, this is an album unashamed to revel in classic sounds and tropes. ‘Alltheconstellationsouttherearen'tworthapinpointofliquidlightinyoureyes’ combines distant chimes, twanging guitars and celestial synth into a mind-expanding odyssey which is three-parts early Tangerine Dream to one-part Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Albatross’.

Such untrammelled revivalism doesn’t always work in the duo’s favour, however; second track ‘You Can’t Shine If You Don’t Burn’ has clichéd cod-Eastern ‘vibes’ slathered across what would otherwise be a more interesting, and darker, work of ambient psych, on which scraping strings clash with nerve-edge organ and sinister vibrating guitar. ‘The Blackest Sun’, meanwhile, veers alarmingly close to the reviled ‘chill-out’; quite why the duo decided to play the sitar motif from The Beatles’ ‘Within You Without You’ over the top, complete with tacky flanging, is a mystery. It makes an otherwise decent track sound like Noel Gallagher wandered into the studio and noodled all over it. Horrible.

Thankfully, the rhythms and textures remain interesting even when the melodies are a bit too unimaginatively ‘head’, the title track’s tense, jazzy beats and Neu!-esque layers of rumbling, acidic guitar being an excellent case in point. But despite highlights such as this, overall LSME is a slightly unsatisfying listen. It feels like a rather studied exercise in making a psychedelic album rather than a product of lives immersed in such culture and music.

In fact, take into account the Chemical Brothers beats, the Noel-esque widdling, and a track called ‘Our Own Private Elsewhere’, which appears to reference both slacker flick My Own Private Idaho and The Chem’s own ‘The Private Psychedlic Reel’, and it starts to seem obvious that Bellentani and Maccari are tapping into 70s hippydom as refracted through 90s indie-dance reference points. A tad inauthentic then, but what the hell counts as authentic these days anyway?

‘Our Own Private Elsewhere’, incidentally, is pretty excellent, as is the closing number ‘These Nights Wear Three Heads Five Arms and Legs Ten’, which is basically Pink Floyd’s ‘On the Run’ with added squealing industrial-metal guitar. See, they had to get a bit of metal in there somewhere.  

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