Say Psych: Album Review: Sonic Jesus – Memories

Hailing from Dognella Di Ninfa, Italy and once described as psychedelia’s “best kept secret”, Sonic Jesus have acquired a staunch following in the underground, not least thanks to the exposure provided by Fuzz Club Records for their debut LP Neither Virtue Nor Anger which has now acquired cult status. Memories is much more than a collection of b-sides, demos and out-takes; it is a refined artist’s sketchbook, an organic exhibition of semi-focused snapshots taken between 2010-2015. It is out tomorrow on Sonic Jesus Records. Tiziano Veronese says “Memories is a very intimate album. It captures the ecstatic moment in which the abstraction that comes out of the creative spark, turns into something real and tangible, but still unfiltered and without any boundaries. Each track in its rawness and spontaneity, testifies a genuine desire to keep exploring across diverse genres. At first you have a bunch of stolen sounds and impressions, then you manipulate them to finally forge something very personal.”

Much closer to the atmospheres of Sonic Jesus’ early self-titled EP, Memories is an album even more radical and primitive than what we are used too and offers two different ways of approaching it. You can listen to it as a complete experimental piece, that lies suspended among the realms of pagan folk rituals Davit Tibet would be proud of or approach the album within the timeframe and context of its birth, like a free-flow study session and an exploration of sounds and influences.

Opener ‘Spectrum Visionary’ is a raw, stripped version of what could easily have become an introduction to ‘I’m In Grace’ from second LP Grace; its otherworldly edge immediately sends shivers down the spine and enchants. ‘Dance of the Sun’ is instantly more upbeat, with a jangly countenance and shows a different side to Sonic Jesus that hasn’t previously surfaced, its playful energy lends comparison to the sound becoming synonymous with the Californian coastline. A fan favourite has a completely different feel in this track carefully referred to as ‘Reich (Original)’. The menacing edge is missing, and it feels like its missing its power, its an interesting version for those of us who love the other version and takes a few listens to understand. ‘Town’ and ‘Whiskey Train’ have more in common with stripped back country tracks than the Sonic Jesus we see clad all in black and exhibits the versatility of the musician on display. ‘Whiskey Train’ especially doesn’t really sound anything like them and if you didn’t know, you’d be hard pushed to guess.

‘Noah’ could easily slide into Neither Virtue Nor Anger and ‘I’m Here’ has a hauntingly similar resonance to ‘It’s Time to Hear’ from the 2012 self-titled EP. ‘The Klas’ is a full-on synth masterpiece, with an infectious groove that would fill any dance floor. ‘Heaven’ takes the pace down a touch, returning to a much more lo-fi approach and offering a back bedroom recording feel. ‘Khullam’ sends shivers down the spine once more with its ethereal presence lingering long after its finished. ‘Monks’ is a straight up piece of 70s garage rock and its title hints strongly at its influences. ‘Cartaxo’ once again invokes the sound of the first EP and will appeal to fans across the board, the vocal style is reminiscent of that we have come to know and love. Concluding ‘Love Again’ continues in this vein, channelling hints of ‘Locomotive’ in its overall style but with a more upbeat overall feel.

This LP shows a completely different side to Sonic Jesus that you could only guess at before. The use of a multitude of genres provides a kaleidoscopic tour of unreleased tracks and invokes a whole new level of respect for the quality of the musician contained within.

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