London band Psychic Markers have released their third album.
The new self-titled record, which has been released today through Bella Union, arrives as a moment of self-reflection spearheaded by lead singer Steven Dove who found himself engulfed in an active sandstorm during a US road trip: “These things impact you,” he says. “I got thinking about human nature, our proneness to mistakes, imperfection and the implications of reactionary decision making.” A sweeping sandstorm, it has to be said, is a fitting description in itself for an album that holds no punches.
Psychic Markers have taken on a transitional mode of development in their years as a band. Melding genres of psych-rock with that of pop and a sprinkling of Krautrock is by no means an easy accomplishment. The introduction and exploration of electronic soundscapes on their new material have only elevated their immersive and, at times, overwhelming wall of sound.
“We wanted to make an album that was 100% us,” says guitarist Leon Dufficy, who heads up the band with Dove. “With zero dilution from other influences.” Dufficy is also jointly responsible for the explorations Psychic Markers made on the new album, playing around with old gear, exploring four tracks, micro cassettes and drum machines: “I wanted to see how it would impact our writing and recording process,” he says. “By taking away the endless options you have in the digital world.”
With tracks like ‘Silence’, ‘Pulse’, ‘Clouds’ offering the record a rolling, expansive and transcendental journey through their own unique world, Psychic Markers allow a glimpse at their future while reflecting on past musical glories, offering a sense of nostalgia with an undeniable nod of the head to a 1970s classic. “The pressures of society don’t begin in adulthood, they start as soon as you’re able to communicate and essentially from the moment you can walk, talk and shit by yourself,” the band told Beats Per Minute. “These initial milestones are the foundations of responsibility and invariably the moment the pressure mounts. Questions surrounding your future begin immediately, ‘What do you want to be when you get older?’, for example. This emphasis on the future only grows in tandem with the pressures of adulthood and my opinion is to live more in the present and to alleviate some of this pressure, especially in the young.”
They added: “Alan Watts describes it as the point in the middle of an hourglass, we have these huge spaces containing the past and the present but only one grain of sand for the present. This obviously makes it a particularly difficult place to exist. These points are echoed in ‘Cloud’s, written from the perspective of a child who I feel should be encouraged to let the imagination run wild, look up to the clouds, the stars and be free.”
Those familiar with the band will know Psychic Markers are comprised of members with a prolific history of working within the music industry. While each member has enjoyed success with past projects, and the band itself has two full-length records that preceded this release, the new material feels like their most complete project to date. Though the incontrovertible influences continue to contribute to their creative vision, Psychic Markers have managed to successfully carve out their own sound which combines elements psych-pop and Krautrock while adding an element of science fiction to the sonic exploration.
While the band have always allowed their sound to traverse a field of experimentation, the self-titled album has added a level higher thinking. Dove’s lyrical exploration feels very much like a coming-of-age moment, allowing himself to fabricate the essence of his words on a higher level. “Imagine a David Cronenberg-style movie in which each morning you awake to find your brain merged inside someone else’s head — you see life from a totally different angle,” he commented.
“I was tired of writing within the constraints of a verse/chorus structure and wanted to be expressive in alternative ways,” says Dove while discussing the construction of the band’s new material. “It’s like walking the same route to get from A to B—eventually it becomes mundane and for this record, I wanted to try walking a different way.”
There’s no doubting that this record arrives as a defining moment for Psychic Markers. While deeper experimentation of their working process has led to a transition in their output, it has contributed immensely to their accomplishment. Psychic Markers are not here to satisfy or appease, the material is a rolling psychedelic journey like no other and done without any watering down. Their overall sound is more full than they could ever imagine, the record is bursting out of the speakers and destined for success.
The great director Stanley Kubrick once said: “A film is — or should be — more like music than like fiction. It should be a progression of moods and feelings. The theme, what’s behind the emotion, the meaning.” It is a sentiment that could not be more fitting to the latest effort from Psychic Markers, a project that would, in a hypothetical kaleidoscopic dreamworld, fit in harmony alongside the visuals of Kubrick in a rolling score like no other.
Stream the album, below.