Say Psych: Album Review, Celestial Bums – Ascend

Celestial Bums are a dreamy psych rock band hailing from the Catalan capital, Barcelona. The band who’s members are fluid, with three having recorded the album, but the live offering never consisting of less than five, released their self-titled, self-released debut EP back in 2012. This was followed with a 10” split with now label mates Helicon, on Psyilocybin Sounds in 2013. Having been featured on A Psych Tribute to the Rolling Stones with their take on ‘Child of the Moon’ in 2015, the debut LP has been some time in the coming and hotly anticipated.

Ascend out in digital format on 13 June, and limited edition vinyl in early September, has been released on Belgian label EXAG’ Records and dissects a wide spectrum of psychedelic soundscapes which range from the hazy, melting rock to fuzz driven dronic mantras. The album was recorded in Cacophony Studios Austin, Texas and produced by Kyle Hunt of The Black Angels.

Opening track ‘Mind, I Don’t Need You Now’ proclaims dreamy melodic guitar riffs before the vocals enter and soothe further. This track is so relaxed, it is easy to miss the beauty of what is contained within as it lulls and flows through the aural passage. ‘Let’s Break the Days’ has a darker side than its predecessor and very quickly ranks up the tempo. The steady drum beat from percussionist Augusto Marchetti maintains the pace whilst the guitar croons with a repetitive ditty that instantly stains the mind. The organ is brought forward as the track proceeds and would happily sit at home in any Doors song; an attribute I’m sure they will appreciate.

‘Levitation’, a word now synonymous with those of a psychedelic persuasion, more than lives up to its hefty title with its soundscapes of calm interlaced with a guitar solo so profound its effect is captivating. This is a track to immerse yourself in, go with the flow and just enjoy in all its spine tingling glory. ‘Full Moon Nightmare’ was the first track I heard when word was set forth that an album was imminent and is probably still my favourite offering. The track exudes sensuality with all elements working in perfect harmony, particularly the vocal nuances of Japhy Ryder, which are particularly strong, to create a track that bodies can happily sway to.

‘Sister of the Road’ runs at a breathe-taking pace and offers up something different from the previous collection of songs. ‘Gandharva’s Offering’, named for the heavenly beings from Hindu and Buddhist mythology, is a piece of true psychedelia with repetition the driving force to a very pleasing tune. Over seven minutes, it is the longest track on the album but with its consistent mantra and pleasing elements, it finishes all too soon. ‘A Spanish Trip’ is different once again with an added tambourine jangle and a pleasing vocal waver to mark the song out.

‘Magic Colours’ sends the receiver back to dreamland before ‘Killer of the Road’ ups the tempo with repetition once more striking all the right notes in all the right places. Bonus track for the digital version, ‘Like the Planets’ starts dreamy but offers a kick a minute and a half in and aided by the purring bass line, courtesy of Marc Bromway on this occasion, continues to roll blissfully until the album comes gracefully to a close.

It feels very much like Celestial Bums had a point to prove with this album, and I’d say they do exactly that. We may have had to wait some time for its appearance, but it was most definitely worth the wait.

The vinyl can be pre-ordered here:




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