The Green Tambourine Band - Let Yourself Be / Aum

by Jeff Penczak Rating:9 Release Date:2014-04-02

No, it’s not a Lemon Pipers reunion, and those aren’t the titles of their latest single. This Edinburgh quartet have decided to divide their debut album into two distinct sides to illustrate their varied sound. The mixture of mellow, Velvets/Beatlesque pop-psych on side one and funky, Madchester psych on the three-part, side-long flip can be traced back to the disjointed sounds produced by their namesakes, particularly their own epics, ‘Through With You’ and ‘Dead End Street/Half Light’. [And there is a bit of a British connection to their name, seeing as the Piper’s guitarist, Bill Bartlett was born in South Harrow; he later struck pay-dirt with Ram Jam’s cover of Lead Belly’s ‘Black Betty’.]

But to the album at hand. The dreamy, jangle-pop opener ‘You Are the One That I Love to Love’ fills your ears with groovy organ, stoned harmonies, and heavily treated guitars. You can almost smell the patchouli in the air.

Flutes, gently rolling waves, dirgy drums, and chanting vocals (repeating the previous track’s title as its only lyric) help ‘From the Seed into the Flower’ grow inside your brain like a serpentining vine, creating a sense of deja vu not uncommon in drug-induced states of euphoria. ‘I’m Free’ incorporates Lennon’s 'Free As a Bird' lyric into another jangly hallucination, not unlike vintage Brian Jonestown Massacre, Spacemen 3, and Warlocks, while sitars add another glassy-eyed effect to ‘I Want You to Be’, which borrows heavily from Harrison’s organic Eastern explorations.

The brief instrumental ‘Lemon Sorbet’ melds sitars and organs for a free ride to innerspace and should have been developed further. This sorbet melts a little too quickly.

‘Here She Comes’ tears a few pages out of the mellow chapters of Lou Reed’s songbook (‘Sunday Morning’, ‘The Gift’, ‘Coney Island Baby’, ‘I’m Set Free’, et al), and ‘Through the Looking Glass’ assembles backwards guitars and electronics for a palate-cleansing instrumental wrap-up to your first trip.

But the real adventure lies in wait on the 16-minute flip, ‘Aum’. ‘Part A’ is a totally wigged-out psychedelic jam which tosses Screamadelica, Happy Mondays, and The Stone Roses into a blender, mixes in a little bongwater, and bakes it all into the kind of mind-melding stew these brain cells haven’t enjoyed in years. Good on ya, lads.

‘Part U’ returns to Harrison’s mellow, Eastern-tinged atmospherics, with tablas and other percussive effects creating a natural high, while closer (Part M) develops a rather funky, soulful strut not unlike the psychedelic soul of The Temptations, ca Cloud Nine. Add some sitars, tambourines (green or otherwise), and a few psychobabble parting words, and your trip is complete.

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