Album Review: John Dwyer Et Al – Moon-Drenched

I’m confused. I’ve just found out that John Dwyer was the founding member of Osees, who used to be called Thee Oh Sees, OCS, The Ohsees, The Oh Sees, and Oh Sees, though this is by neither of them. It seems John Dwyer is a busy man, having also recorded under many names and in many guises, this one being an improvisational group known as Bent Arcana, who have already released an album under that name last year. This may not be news to you but it is to me, and I thought I was pretty informed about the current psyche scene, from Toy and Tank to Causa Sui, Psychedelic Porn Crumpets and King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard. I’m intrigued.

Let’s get down to the sounds. This music is solely improvisational and tending towards the freakier end of things, so there are many instances of crossover with the more edgy improvisations of the late 60’s/early 70’s bands like Tangerine Dream, early Kraftwerk, Bitches Brew period Miles Davis, and the more recent psychedelic meanderings of Causa Sui. Grooves come and go, with rhythms provided by ex Boredoms/Thurston Moore drummer Ryan Sawyer, upon which are layered various freaked out wah wah rhythms and keys that drift in and out like Irmin Schmidt. At times “The War Clock” is not unlike the long extended jamming of Gong, especially when the occasional saxophone breaks out and in, and when we get guitar interjections there’s a feel of those acid tinged freak out parties in 60’s films, where there are oil slide wall projections, and semi-naked women cavorting wildly with painted bodies.

Even though it sometimes gets pretty weird it never strays too far from the funk, giving everything a feel of a soundtrack to a sleazy Dirty Harry style cityscape populated with freaks and weirdos, as evident in tracks like “Der Todesfall” and “Psychic Liberation”…it’s full of greasy flares and Zapata moustaches.

I’m all for a little bit of self indulgence, but if it’s not your bag you might want to stick to the more tuneful end of John Dwyer’s output. This one is for the freaks, the stoners, the badasses. If you’ve ever pictured yourself  walking the dusty 70’s mean streets of LA or New York in your scuffed cuban heel shoes with your bell bottoms and a worn leather jacket slung over your shoulder, frequenting seedy underground parties, doing shady deals and smoking reefers, then this is your grimy soundtrack.

I think I’m going to definitely check out The Osees now.

Moondrenched is out now as a digital download on Caste Face Records – order from Bandcamp.

Review by Andrew Wood

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