I’ve been involved in the world of psychedelia for years now, in many capacities, and certain things start to stick and draw you ever deeper; like Alice and the infamous rabbit hole. One of the things I’ve noticed and indeed gone down said hole with, is the insane quality of psychedelia emerging from Italy, in every conceivable form. So in a bid to expose the wonderful bands I’ve fallen in love with, I’ve chosen 12 of the best and over the course of three articles, will introduce them to you (in no particular order!).
Sonic Jesus is the musical project led by Tiziano Veronese and Marco Baldassari since 2012. Since conception they have attracted attention, with their self-titled EP released on Fuzz Club in 2012 selling out quickly. Then featuring on a split-single and two Reverb Conspiracy compilations before the debut LP Neither Virtue, Nor Anger came out in 2015. The follow up Grace came in 2017 and they have continued to be a strong presence on the live circuit. With a prevailing darkness and strong rhythm sections that steer the tracks, Sonic Jesus captivate in whatever they do and are a constant draw wherever they are. Fans eagerly await the next chapter…
JuJu is the brainchild of Sicilian multi-instrumentalist Gioele Valenti (also of Lay Llamas and Herself). Their self-titled debut was originally released in 2015 and the vinyl sold out almost instantly. In 2017 JuJu joined forces with Fuzz Club Records to release Our Mother Was A Plant to critical acclaim. Shows across Europe attracted attention earning them an army of new fans before third LP Maps and Territory was released in 2019. JuJu have shown a clear progression in their music as you traverse their albums, with only the core elements remaining the same. The range of instruments on offer is paramount to their appeal as they blend world folk, psychedelia, traditional rock and roll and electronica. You are never quite sure what is going to come next with JuJu, but it is always interesting.
Padova’s Mamuthones describe their music as ‘occult psychedelia’, if that doesn’t get your attention nothing will! They originally started as the solo project of Alessio Gastaldello, founder and ex drummer of Jennifer Gentle (Italy’s psych pop mavericks signed to Sub Pop Records) but soon turned into something like a real band. In 2007, he switched from drums to air-organ and voice to create his own kind of deep psychedelia and released two albums; The First Born and Sato. Flick forward to 2011 and the release of a self-titled album on Italian label Boring Machines. The band were heralded as prime movers of the so-called Italian Occult Psychedelia scene and the album itself got rave reviews. A whole string of other releases followed until they formed an allegiance with Rocket Recordings in 2015 to release ‘Symphony for the Devil’ followed by LP Fear on the Corner. Having showed they have what it takes to stick around for 13 years, its unlikely they will be going anywhere anytime soon.
Rome’s Crimen are the newest of the Italian contingent on my radar despite having formed in 2007. Their debut Silent Animals was released on Fuzz Club Records in 2018 and was over a decade in the making. It came after a string of successful EPs and two years hibernating to record the opus. They offer up a heady cocktail of krautrock, psychedelia, noise rock and post-punk and the DIY ethos of the record appeals to many. They’re an interesting combination of sounds and fans of the record are keen to know if there will be a follow up, and how long we have to wait for it!