The Cosmic Dead - Rainbowhead

by Sean Hewson Rating:8 Release Date:2016-05-15
There's a lot of that psychedelia about at the moment. A lot of beardy noodling. A lot of kosmische chugging. So it is with some trepidation that I put on The Cosmic Dead's new album, Rainbowhead, only to have my head ripped off by a savage variation of Japanese psychedelic freak-out music (Acid Mother's Temple, High Rise). 
 
I love the 'all in from the start, see what happens' approach of 'Human Sausage'. A few seconds of drums, a few seconds of fuzz bass - guitars feeding back all the time - and then it's straight into psychedelic riff territory. And it doesn't let up for seven minutes.
 
Synths soar and bubble. The drums are like one long drum solo. But there's nothing as dull as a guitar solo - it's more Detroit than San Francisco. The bass is huge and wobbly. The keyboards are the only thing bringing any melody or structure.
 
After seven minutes, just as the song/jam threatens to run out of steam, it turns into the more subdued 'Skye Burial' - at three minutes, more of an interlude or a moment of calm. It's mainly keyboard-led, with ghostly, disembodied vocals coming at you through effects pedals. The guitars and fuzz bass are back for 'Inner C' (Can = Inner Space + 'Vitamin C'?).
 
A little more restrained than on 'Human Sausage', it's closer to the more freaked-out end of Krautrock (Ash Ra Tempel, Cosmic Jokers, Guru Guru). Whilst it is restrained, it is always building across its 13 minutes. The drums, again, are somewhere between rhythm and solo. The guitar playing is basic but savage and inventive. This is no Dark Star, it's better than that. The Cosmic Dead's trips into space are warpspeed surges - more exciting than The Grateful Dead's gentle noodling. Last up is the title track. Again, the bass is huge, the drums are expansive and the guitar is slightly insane. The keyboards, previously the voice of reason, are more insane than the guitar. The ghostly voice returns as well. And they all go at it, hammer and tongs, for eighteen minutes. Sometimes losing themselves, sometimes losing us. But with an intrepid energy that you don't often get with jamming. There's no feeling of winging it, showing off or playing safe. Just the joy of playing, seeing what happens and occasionally going beyond your abilities. 
 
Everyone currently making psychedelic music - more of this, less of whatever it is that you think you're doing. The Cosmic Dead are one of the few bands to bring energy into their jams. It's slightly scruffy and sometimes they're flying by the seat of their pants. But this just serves to make Rainbowhead more exciting.

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