Say Psych: Album Review: Pretty Lightning – Jangle Bowls

German duo Pretty Lightning have just released their fourth LP Jangle Bowls via London-based label Fuzz Club Records. For over a decade, the duo comprising Christian Berghoff and Sebastian Haas have been busy dealing in swampy, fuzzed-out delta blues with a penchant for strung-out psychedelic drones and on their latest effort, picking up where 2017’s The Rhythm of Ooze, they return sounding better than ever.

If you ever wondered what’d happen if two best friends who share a collective mission to not take life too seriously spent just as much time soaking up the muddy blues of Mississippi as they did the kosmisch experimentations of West Germany (the pair also play in Krautrock collective Datashock) then Pretty Lightning are your answer. Unsurprising, then, that as often as their sound is indeed full to the brim with crunch, swagger and feedback, they’re also just capable of easing off on that oft-abused accelerator and dealing in something more far hypnotic and drone-like.

Since their formation over a decade ago, Pretty Lightning have been a riotous presence in the European neo-psych movement; taking their dizzying garage-blues across the UK and the mainland on countless occasions, appearing at a number of festivals along the way and sharing the stage with the likes of Moon Duo, Clinic, Kikagaku Moyo and Night Beats, to name just a few.

Opening track ‘Swamp Ritual’ is about as swampy and ritualistic as Pretty Lightning get as they serve up a piece of slow-burning instrumental blues before unfolding into the blown-out garage rock title track ‘Jangle Bowls’. The track builds through repetition, creating a metronome effect which draws you ever deeper. First single ‘Greyhound’ is a mellower, plodding number that allows you to draw breathe before ‘123 Eternity’ offers up a good old-fashioned dose of rock’n’roll with psychedelic twinges, especially towards the end. ‘Voo Doo Boo’ has a sufficiently menacing opening which gives way to gritty blues guitars and scaled vocals which linger eerily before ‘Boogie at the Shrine’ offers up a dose of trance-infused psychedelia.

‘Ra Ra Ra’ ramps up the tempo once more and sees the duo swap the never-ending highways for the cosmos before ‘Hum’ which sounds like something Black Rebel Motorcycle Club would be proud to release, with a guitar riff so catchy you find yourself dancing along without even realising how it happened. The brilliantly titled ‘There is Ooze on our Shooze’ is a slow track which serves as an interlude before the seven-minute ‘Shovel Blues’ concludes the album. The track utilises the band’s more esoteric Eastern influences and uses detached sound to create depth.

Part of what makes this album such a ride from start to finish is the band’s uncompromising ability to jerk between high-octane, fuzzy face-melters and more laid back, hypnotic melodies. Turn the volume up high and enjoy the ride.  

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