Magnet’s subterranean 60s stylings are perfect for a triple bill of psych on a winter’s night. First up (or down, this is the basement, man), DUSST invite you to share their saucerful of secrets. Happiness Is On The Horizon is the obvious standout track, but none of their set sags, and some of the numbers are surprisingly short. The right length, perhaps, when many bands would just recycle the chorus maybe twice too often. Not so Dusst. Their taste of the hippy dream gone sour isn’t a throwback, it’s the sign of a refined palate.
Next up – and no, you didn’t hear that correctly, theirs is a completely different moniker – are FUSS, all beanie hats, perma-stoned, coyote howls, and a beautiful sound. Jangly and washy at the same time, it’s like bathing in sherbet. They have something other bands don’t. They also have a guy who crouches behind a monitor for the whole set over something that lights up his face like the glowing MacGuffin in Pulp Fiction. Mysterious.
Speaking of mysterious, PSYCHIC ILLS can hypnotise a room in approximately eight minutes armed with just two chords. It helps when you’ve Hecate, queen of the witches, on bass (actually Elizabeth Hart) underpinning Tres Warren’s distant, blurred vocals and shimmering guitar. They released album number five, Inner Journey Out, this summer, and even with the sweeping vistas conjured up by the generously-employed lap steel, there’s no denying that, with a cold winter bearing down on those upstairs and outside, this new material can withstand the seasons, soundtracking a blanketed session indoors as well as a stumbling comedown through the desert. Maybe once every ten minutes or so, one band member will shoot a glance at another. They might smile briefly in reply. What fluctuation in all that density of sound, which chord of the two in perpetuity, elicits such a reaction?
Long-form psychedelia like this rewards attention. Drones and repetition give the superficial impression of sustained calm, but as with still waters, such music runs deep, and there are endless subtle eddies to be spotted by the careful listener, that tug at the ankle and pull you in. They’re a soundtrack band, and it’s up to you to think up the image. When a guitar laughs, you have a say in what it’s finding so funny.
A sound that never stops is reassuring. Perhaps that’s why it’s best they dispense with encores as they drop their instruments and leave the stage unceremoniously through the crowd. There’s a groove running through the universe at all times, and Psychic Ills tap into it.